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Fertiliser Spreader – Basic Setup and Calibration Factsheet

Fertiliser Spreader – Basic Setup and Calibration Factsheet

Teagasc recently published a compendium of 20 factsheets providing the latest technical advice on soils, nutrients and fertiliser. The fifteenth of these is about the Fertiliser Spreader – Basic Setup and Calibration and can be read here. All 20 will be published here on Teagasc Daily

Farmers are urged to focus on Nutrient management planning, optimisation of soil fertility, using organic manures strategically and increasing clover in swards, all balanced with prudent fertiliser usage.

1. Check the spreader before use

  • No damage on hopper or frame
  • Disc rotating freely, no play in bearing or gearbox
  • Regulator mechanism functions, no wear in linkages
  • Vanes not damaged or worn
  • Check the spreader before use
  • Agitator functions
  • Headland control functions, fins not bent
  • Lights are working
  • PTO cover & chains in place

2. Fit the machine correctly

  • Check operators manual, ensure tractor and spreader are compatible
  • Fit front weights as necessary. Check tractor controls
  • Ensure machine is level when viewed from rear. If not spread pattern will be wrong
  • Check the tyre pressure and adjust lower link arms. Machine height is measured over the crop
  • Set the height of the spreader according to instruction manual for example 75 cm+ over the crop

3. Machine settings

Set the machine for bout width, fertiliser and rate you intend to use. Use the Smart phone app, website or calibration/setting book to determine (depending on model)

  • Disc / vane choice and vane setting
  • Fertiliser drop point setting
  • Height of machine
  • Front/back angle of machine
  • Regulator setting, some apps will also give you the flow rate, kg/min of fertiliser 

Flow rate kg/minute = Application rate (kg/ha) x forward speed (km/hr) x working width (m) / 60

4. Calibrate the machine

Depending on machine type:


  • Remove a disc
  • Turn on machine (agitator needs to be operating)
  • Open shutter for 30 seconds
  • Collect fertiliser in a bucket
  • Weight of fertiliser collected (kg) x 4 = flow rate (kg/min)

If the actual flow rate from the machine does not match the desired flow rate adjust the regulator and recalibrate

5. Forward speed and PTO speed

Calibrate the tractors forward speed

  • mark out 100 m
  • select desired forward gear
  • set engine revs to give PTO speed of 540 rpm
  • Use a rolling start
  • Record time taken to cover 100 m

Forward speed (kph) = 360 / Time taken in seconds

Deirdre Hennessy, Seamus Kearney, Mark Plunkett, David Wall, Mark Moore (Editor), Pat Murphy, Stan Lalor, were the main contributors to this series of leaflets. Numerous colleagues from Teagasc AGRIP, CELUP, REDP, Signpost, PR dept. and advisory service also participated.

To access the entire compendium of 20 factsheets see Soils, Nutrients and Fertiliser Factsheets   Find more information on this topic in Soil & Soil Fertility