Despite all the talk of a reduction in the use of pesticides, sprayer manufacturers remain upbeat about the future need for their product, including SAM Sprayers of Norfolk, England.

The company has been building self-propelled crop sprayers since 197 – a move prompted by the ban on aerial spraying and the subsequent demand for machines that had sufficient ground clearance to pass through growing crops with minimal damage.

In at the beginning

Sands Agricultural Machinery is still very much a family run firm, which has stuck rigidly to the business of making sprayers.

SAM sprayer machine
Sands Agricltural machinery trades as Sam Sprayers and they are available as new units in Ireland

As it is still around after 47 years and now competes with major tractor manufacturers that have moved into the sector, often by buying up independent companies, it must be doing something right.

George Thompson, after sales manager for the company, was on hand at the Farm Machinery and Trade Association (FTMTA) show to guide customers through the features of the latest model, known as the Infinity.

SAM sprayers start as blank canvas

One of the first points to note is that beyond the chassis and cab, the company does not produce a standard model as such. Each machine should be considered a base unit which is finished to the customer’s specifications.

There is, George said, such a tremendous variety of options and additions to any sprayer that starting with a clean sheet is, realistically, the only way forward.

Boom width is obviously the first item on the menu and up to 40m is available, all with a levelling system that relies on six sensors to adjust the height.

Dipping booms

To help cope with hillsides and undulating ground, the booms can dip down by 12° thanks to a hinge joint of the company’s own design – a feature which has since been duplicated by other manufacturers.

Sprayer booms FTMTA
The rear frame is neatly engineered and packaged.

Once the spraying width is decided upon it becomes a question of nozzle selection, section control options and so on. George simply notes that if it is possible to fit any particular system onto a sprayer, then Sam Sprayers will do so.

A popular choice is flow control by piezo electric pulse valves rather than by altering pressure within the spray line. These can work at a rate of 100 times a second, or down to 12, at which point their advantage over standard items is much reduced.

Maintaining spray pattern

The chief advantage is that the rate of application can be controlled without effecting the spray pattern or the droplet size, as would be the case by varying the pressure.

This becomes particularly important as boom width increases and the rate at which the boom tips travel, relative to each other, when turning, which can happen when running along curved headlands.

Controlling the flow rate in the various sections, or even from individual nozzles, will be a function of whichever GPS-based system is used, and here to there is a huge choice, making any attempt at standardisation a hapless task.

Standard chassis

With that said, however the base machine is fitted out, there are many features that are common to all the Infinity-type models.

induction hopper on self propelled sprayer
The side mounted filling station folds away hydraulically

The Infinity range is the larger option of the two-model range; the second is the Horizon series, which has been the mainstay of the company for a good while now.

Up until now the perceived customer demand was for a 5,500L tank on a self-propelled prayer, but for the new infinity series there is a choice of either a 5,000L or 6,000L stainless steel, rather than glass reinforced plastic (GRP), tank.

Longevity is the goal

The use of stainless steel is favoured wherever possible and this includes the pipework within the tank and the hydraulically folded 40L induction hopper.

A larger pump on the Infinity can fill the tank at a rate of 1,000L/minute through a 3in inlet hose.

There is a pre-fill function which cuts off the intake when the the desired amount has been taken on board; it is claimed to be accurate to within 5L.

Residue reduction

Extraneous pipework is kept to a minimum to reduce chemical residues and ease the washing out; a rubber hose is used where only absolutely necessary.

SAM sprayer filling FTMTA
Rubber hosing is used only where necessary

The boom has an auto-lowering function when folding up, although the actual operation itself is still a manual task controlled from the cab.

The chassis is all new and is built to accommodate larger wheels, but still gives a turning circle of just 7.6m and an underbelly clearance of 1.2m.

Deutz power For SAM

The engines is a Stage V Deutz unit of 242hp, driving through a hydrostatic transmission with four drive modes to suit field operation and road travel, including cruise control for both.

The use of Deutz engines has long been a feature of Sam Sprayers and given that the company itself deals in its own used machines, many with high hours, it has the experience to keep them working.

Also new is the overhead screen by which many of the sprayer’s functions can be operated while monitoring the health and functioning of the machine.

Experience tells

When Agriland visited a user of an older model here in Ireland, one feature that did impress was the comfort of the ride, and this is said to have been further improved in these latest models.

Sands agricultural vision sprayer
Seamus Lanergan of Tipperary already operates a 13 year old SAM Vision sprayer which remains in excellent condition

The Infinity appears a well thought-out self-propelled sprayer, as it should be given the experience of the company and its focus on just the one type of machine.

The sprayers are now available from Furlong Equipment of Stradbally, Co. Laois, which has been importing used models for several years now and is therefore well positioned to offer support for new machines.

Hardi cushions the ride

Also on display at Punchestown was the latest sprayer range from Hardi. The Mega tractor mounted series is available in four sizes from 1,200-2,200L.

Hardi sprayer
The Mega series of sprayers is the latest in the Hardi Range

Booms are available in three, four or five sections and come in widths of 15-28m.

The major feature which sets these sprayers apart from previous models is a new suspension system that operates on the lower linkage.

Hardi Cushion
Air cushions soften the shocks from a sprayer carrying up to 2t of water

Known as AirRide Suspension, the shock-absorbing rubber cushions are said to bring a great deal more comfort to the operator, as well as allowing faster speeds on the road – both are said to help increase efficiency.