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Fertiliser spreader calibration: getting ready for the coming season

Fertiliser spreader calibration: getting ready for the coming season

Teagasc, in association with Carberry, organised a number of events on fertiliser spreader setup and calibration in West Cork recently.

John McNamara, Carbery joint programme coordinator, along with Aoife Healy O’Driscoll, farm sustainability lead at Carbery Group, invited Francis Quigley, Teagasc farm machinery specialist, down to the area to speak with farmers about getting ready for the coming season. He spoke about what they need to do to ensure their fertiliser spreaders are ready.

Despite the inclement weather,  three events went ahead in Barryroe Co-op, Timoleague, Bandon Co-op, and Drinagh Co-op Central. Unfortunately one event planned for Lisavaird Co-op had to be cancelled due to the heavy snow, this event will be rescheduled for later in the month.

The events were very well attended in each location and Francis Quigley spoke of the importance of getting the fertiliser spreader correctly setup. Getting the basics right is the first step - correct height, ensuring the machine is level and also the importance of having the tractor engine revs are set to ensure the PTO speed is correct.

Francis Quigley demonstrating fertiliser calibration

PTO speed in most cases will be 540rpm, however, he pointed out that with the increased amount of urea being applied by farmers, this has become even more important. Some machines will require a higher PTO speed of 600rpm or more to spread urea and it is important to check what is required for your machine and the working witdh.

Quigley pointed out that a vital piece of equipment that gets neglected by most is the spreader vanes. These are wearing parts and need to be checked regularly and replaced when they show signs of wear. They may only be very small and easy to miss, but they do all of the important work on the spreader and how smoothly the fertiliser moves along the vanes will have a big influence on the spread width.

Francis Quigley examining vanes on a fertiliser spreader

Setting the angle of the spreading vanes is also a vital task. As farmers may be using urea products for the first time, it is important to realise this product is lighter and therefore needs to get more energy to travel to the desired working width. This is done by adjusting the angle of the spreader vane correctly.  

He also showed the farmers how to use the range of smart phone apps that are available and how you can get the information and settings needed for different fertiliser typess. He also pointed out the importance of using even a basic GPS guidance unit to ensure that forward speed and working widths are maintained throughout the job. 

In a previous video, Quigley demonstrated the steps to checking the spreader is functioning correctely and how to calibrate it.