Presidio ideal pyrethrum sprayer21 April 2014
Victorian contractor Malcolm Hull has ratcheted up the sophistication of his operation with a Hardi Presidio self-propelled sprayer that offers more accurate boom height and the clearance he needs to look after a major pyrethrum farm.
Pyrethrum is the source of a common insecticide that is used in flea collars, cans of fly spray and many garden sprays. Not surprisingly, the plants aren’t bothered by aphids or other insects, but they don't compete well with weeds.
When Tasmanian company Botanical Resources Australia extended their operation to a pyrethrum trial plot in Clunes, 35km north of Ballarat, they engaged Malcolm’s company Clunes Spraying to keep the plants weed-free. The farm now grows more than 1,000ha of pyrethrum.
Pyrethrum is in the chrysanthemum family and looks very much like a daisy bush. A perennial plant, it is harvested for oil each year around Christmas when about a metre high.Malcolm is particularly busy spraying out grass and broadleaf weeds when the pyrethrum is planted in September.
“It’s a little fellow at the start and can’t cope with the competition,” Malcolm explained.
Malcolm says his Hardi Presidio fits in with the pyrethrum industry perfectly. “We got the Hardi at the end of 2012. We wanted to have greater control and more accurate boom height and we did not want to have a draw bar dragging through the pyrethrum. It has a higher clearance of 125cm compared to our previous sprayer, which is great because the pyrethrum was getting knocked around before.”
When Malcolm was enquiring about self-propelled sprayers he was told the Hardi would travel further and cover more hectares.
“I dismissed that as marketing rubbish. But the moment I used it the light went on – they're quite right. It’s a more stable machine, more compact and specifically designed for the job.”
Malcolm chose the Presidio not just for its features and competitive price, but because of the support he gets from his local dealership Hewitt & Whitty in Ballarat.
“They have good back-up service and good staff, and a large inventory of spare parts. All these things make a big difference,” Malcolm says.
Malcolm’s Presidio has a 24m boom which suits the smaller paddocks he works in. The boom wings fold up at the push of a button and sit into transport carriers.
“I only get out of the cab to open and shut the gate. The boom is very stable and has trapeze boom levelling suspension. It’s has GPS guidance and auto section control to prevent overlap.”
The centre of gravity is low, making it stable on hills. It is also lighter than a tractor/sprayer combination, which is important to Malcolm.
“When fully loaded, the Presidio is 9.9 tonnes. My tractor and sprayer were 12 tonnes and other self-propelled’s in this area are up to 19 tonnes. The Presidio four-wheel drive transmission goes anywhere and makes a light footprint.
Malcolm says the Presidio has got mixing chemicals and transfer down to a fine art. Any type of chemical – powder, liquid or emulsion – can be added and mixed with the turbo filler, which folds down for easy access. He finds the clean water tank for washing hands a nice touch, and the cab is well sealed for operation safety.
The Presidio does 40 kph on the road and Malcolm usually sprays between 12 and 17 kph depending on the conditions. The airbag suspension provides a smooth ride which means it does well on rough ground.
“With the airbags and suspended boom, it can do a better job in rough country than a tractor and a trail-behind. We cover about 150ha of pyrethrum in a day but we do a lot of road miles, with paddocks averaging about 12ha, and we use high water rates.”
The cab is comfortable and has good visibility.
“The controls are well set out. All the main controls are next to the joystick and the computer is three inches from my right hand so changes are easy.
“The cab is also quiet. We can hold a conversation in the cab without problem.”