This week I took delivery on a new Apache AS1220 sprayer. As the first new machine on my farm since 2004, and the first new equipment deal that I’ve worked out entirely on my own, I’m excited. Actually, this new sprayer is a conservation purchase. It is replacing my 2012 model John Deere 4830. Several benefits that it offers over my previous sprayer translate into better conservation practices.
With a dry weight of 20,300 pounds, compared to the 4830 at 25,300#, it is 5,000# lighter. This means less compaction, less likely to create ditches, less getting stuck, and less power needed, which brings us to engine size.
The Apache uses a 215 horsepower Cummins Turbo diesel engine compared to the John Deere 4830’s 275 hp engine. At 28% of the JD’s size, one might think I got a much smaller sprayer, but it has the same width (100 foot) boom, so I will continue to drive in the exact same field tracks as in the past, and it actually has a 20% larger chemical tank capacity at 1200 gallons. Plus, the John Deere tops out at a road speed of 30 mph empty, whereas the Apache runs >35 mph.
One of the problems bogging down the John Deere sprayers is the hydrostatic drive system. It converts engine torque to hydraulic pressure which is pumped through hoses down to hydraulic wheel motors where it must be converted back into mechanical torque. There is some efficiency lost in this double conversion. Granted, John Deere had a reason to design the system this way: to gain height for driving through a tall crop. It has a clearance of 60 inches without axles. But since I don’t need to drive over tall crops, the Apache’s 50 inch clearance is plenty, and I get the added bonus of safety since it is not so top-heavy.
Some of the John Deere’s extra power may also be dedicated to it being in 4×4 all the time, whereas the Apache is only 2×4 (but it has a differential lock). Its too bad that didn’t translate into the John Deere being less likely to get stuck in the mud. I never got my previous GVM brand sprayer stuck until I got the John Deere. Not unlike other 4830 owners, we had it stuck several times in places that surprised us.
Another feature of the new Apache sprayer is 9 boom sections. That means there are 9 switches which can be operated automatically or manually to cut off the chemical and/or fertilizer being sprayed across the spray boom in sections as I come to a headland. This reduces overlap crop damage and wasted chemicals by an extra 21% over the John Deere. The feature is called AccuBoom, and is 89% more efficient than controlling spray by a single on/off function on headlands.
After all those conservation benefits are considered, the Apache sprayer is easier to work on, has greater visibility of front tires to help driving between the rows, and cost $100,000 less than a new John Deere the same size!