A New, Lighter Sprayer

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.

two sprayers

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!

List of Energy Conservation Practices

Energy Conservation Practices

Kids learning to drive on electric Gator
Kids learning to drive on electric Gator
  • Natural gas grain drying is minimized in favor of cheaper and more gentle natural air-drying with Intellifarms Bin Manager automated fan control systems which utilize moisture and temperature cables in grain bins and under floors, along with ambient air monitoring weather stations outside the bin to calculate when the most efficient drying times are present and needed. The fans, consequently, run fewer hours.
  • GSI Centrifugal Fans are purchased for all of our new grain bins because of their efficiency and quietness.
  • Minimizing field traffic with GPS and zero overlap uses less fuel.
  • In-field weather stations called Field Data Manager by Intellifarms are utilized with soil moisture probes to assist in applying the most efficient amount of water.
  • Weather stations at distant in-field locations minimize the need to travel many miles just to see if field conditions are appropriate for work or if the crop got rain.
  • Telemetry technology and cellular control of irrigation systems, like Field Commander VP by AgSense, eliminate the need to drive many miles every day to turn pivots on and off.
  • All electric and diesel motors on the farm are sized appropriately for the application.
  • We have a selection of John Deere tractors with various horsepower capacities so that we can only use the size tractor needed for each job.