Compaction Concerns Contribute to Applicator Design
Application equipment manufacturers are very aware of increasing concerns over compaction. Meeting those concerns has contributed significantly to design considerations, optional features, tire selection and even uses of fleet management software. Case IH, Miller St. Nazianz, Hagie and AGCO can all point to design changes they have made in response to these concerns.
"Producers are looking to get more out of every acre," said Mark Burns, Case IH. "Compaction is detrimental to percolation of water and nutrients into the soil. Anything we can do to help with that is at the forefront of the producer's mind."
Anything that can be done to reduce compaction is positive, agreed Mark Jeschke, agronomy research manager, DuPont Pioneer. "Compaction is especially damaging in a crop like corn with its fibrous root system that can't penetrate compacted zones," he said. "This is especially evident in drought conditions like we experienced this past summer if soil is already compacted from the previous season."
Ironically, the excessively dry season may have helped resolve some compaction as deep cracks opened in the soil. Those limited areas with fall rains may have seen some benefit there.
Regardless, even in the best of conditions, compaction remains a concern. Jeschke pointed to the ever larger and heavier equipment being used by growers, as well as custom applicators, as driving the issue.
PHOTO COURTESY OF CASE IHThe tank in the middle and the engine in the rear is a solution to having equal amounts of weight on all four tires used by equipment manufacturers. Field application equipment doesn't get much bigger than the Nitro Series 5400 from Miller, especially when it's equipped with a 1,600-gallon tank. Taking potential compaction into account was central to its design, said Tim Criddle, director of marketing, Miller St. Nazianz. He noted the company's recent Voice of the Customer surveys with field interviews made clear the importance of reducing compaction.
"More and more people are truly cognizant of the yield potential that can be unlocked in part by reducing compaction," said Criddle. "We realized early on that we needed to balance the weight evenly to reduce front or rear bias. We spent a tremendous amount of time and expense in developing the 4,000 series, and now the 5,000 series, so that every component was placed where needed to give us close to a 50/50 weight distribution whether the tank was full, half-full or empty."
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