HARDI Commander keeps improvingCOMMANDER 6500 l – FORCE 36.5 m
With the rapid advance of ag science and technology, ‘continual improvement’ is now as vital for farmers at it is for equipment manufacturers. That is especially true for the partnership between Western Victorian farmer Matt Hinkley and his HARDI Commander sprayer.
Or more accurately – sprayers: Matt has just taken delivery of his third Commander.Continual improvement underpins the 14-year development of the Hinkley farm, from tired sheep runs to high-yielding crops, and HARDI’s continual improvement of the Commander has followed a close parallel.
The boom has optional outrider wheels to prevent ground strikes, especially when crossing the farm’s drainage ditches. “Those wheels are just a safety backup,” says Matt. “The AutoHeight actually works really well, even crossing the ditches at an angle.”
Upgraded AutoHeight is one of many ways the new Commander makes spraying more efficient on the Hinkley farm. Even filling is more streamlined, thanks to a single port that fills the main and rinse tanks together, in direct proportions.
“I like that the HARDI listens to end users and improves their product. The Commander keeps getting better as a result.” Matt Hinkley
Matt comes from a farming family, but both he and his wife Rachel earned Ag Science degrees and worked as agronomists before starting their farm in 2004. Today they grow cereals, canola and hay, and condition lambs, on 1,450 hectares of titles and leases. They take a scientific approach to maximising yields and have their eyes on 10 tonnes per hectare. They’ve already achieved it in small patches – and this season’s yield could reach as high as 8T/ha with finishing rains.
Matt says the Commander has always performed well on the property and, with the benefit of experience, he’s been able to configure his newest sprayer to his needs in a very efficient way.
“We’ve pretty much worked out what we need,” he explains, “so we could keep it straight and clean.”
The Hinkleys selected the VACnMIX, FastFill and AutoHeight. They also added larger tyres to get a bigger footprint on wet winter paddocks. “The big thing for us was capacity,” Matt Hinkley says. “We increased the tank size by about 20%, to 6500 litres, and increased coverage by 20% with a 36.5 m Force boom.” “With the extra capacity and the extra width, we should get better productivity from the same time spent spraying,” he adds.
Matt says the VACnMIX is the most efficient hopper system he’s seen too: “It sucks in solids really quickly and effectively,” he reports. “I’ve watched a couple of my mates with their sprayers and they don’t seem to be able to manage granulated chemical as well as this does.”
He also appreciates less obvious improvements like all the grease nipples being in a single bank.
“There’s no need to get on top of the machine and walk around it,” he says. “You can just go to one spot and grease everything there.”
Out in the field, new inline priming and HARDI’s Dynamic Fluid 4 (DF4) rate controller gives Matt the very precise section control he needs.
“With our paddocks, we have to be able to switch sections on and off very quickly,” he says. “This new system looks to be very quick. In comparison, the old system was a bit slow to react.”
That need for precision speaks volumes about the Hinkleys’ style of farming – and the ongoing choice of HARDI Commander is a reflection of their methods.
“Farmers have to be able to take advantage of the rapid changes in technology,” Hinkley concludes, “and manufacturers can’t afford to rest on their laurels.”