In this article, Brian Hanthorn, CAFRE Beef and Sheep Adviser, Dungannon, discusses setting your fertiliser sower.
Set your fertiliser sower – at current prices, waste is expensive!
With fertiliser prices currently around 80p-£1/kg, there has never been a more important time to ensure your fertiliser spreader is working to its optimum.
Fertiliser sowers on beef and sheep farms generally fall into three categories:
- Oscillating spout (wagtail type);
- Single disc;
- Double disc.
Single disc sowers are commonly found being towed behind quad bikes. They are generally quite limited in their spreading width.
Double or twin disc sowers are very popular and have the advantage of wider sowing width and a more even sowing pattern compared to some single-disc sowers.
Oscillating spouts sowers are more commonly known as wagtail sowers and remain very popular on beef and sheep farm due to their ease of set-up and simplicity of use.
Attaching the sower
When attaching the sower to the tractor linkage it is important to know the height settings for the sower.
Many oscillating spout sowers are 75 cm from the centre of the linkage to the top of the crop, also 75 cm from the centre of the oscillating spout to the top of the crop.
This will ensure the sower is attached perfectly level. Double disc sowers will have their individual settings according to brand or manufacturer. You can find these in the handbook.
Note that the settings may be from the top of the crop and not actual ground level.
Check the sower
After attaching the sower, give it a quick check around to ensure all hydraulic rams and moving parts actually do what there are designed to do.
Grease the sower on all parts that are labelled and check everything is working properly.
Decide on a suitable forward speed
The forward speed should be selected according to the land type and conditions as well as considering slopes and hills.
Fertiliser sowers have become considerably larger in the last ten years with many holding 3-4 tonnes. A lot of this weight is carried quite high behind the tractor which can result in the tractor being less stable.
You can obtain the forward speed of tractors at 540 rpm on the PTO from the chart generally somewhere on the dash or cab of the tractor, or in the operator’s manual for the tractor. Oversize tyres, if fitted, will affect the forward speed.
Some modern tractors will display the forward speed beside the engine speed. Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are becoming increasingly popular and will give a very accurate forward speed.
The second part of this article will cover setting the sower and sowing width and the care of the sower after spreading.