“We never thought section control on a fertiliser spreader would be so good,” says Andrew Beer of RJ Beer Contracting, about the firm’s Vicon spreader equipped with GEOSPREAD. “It has shown us where we needed to be with fertiliser applications.”
“To watch the sections shutting down and see the spread pattern adjusting itself to maintain the correct rate, you just know you’re not wasting fertiliser,” he says. “We saved around 25 tonnes of fertiliser last season, simply through improved accuracy and fewer overlaps.”
Vicon RO-EDW with GEOSPREAD has saved RJ Beer Contracting around 25 tonnes of fertiliser/season from improved accuracy and a reduction in overlaps.
Based at Rake Farm, Kingsbridge, Devon, RJ Beer handles a general contracting operation alongside a contract farming workload that accounts for 6,000 acres of fertiliser spreading each season.
Until recently, contracting brothers Rob and Andrew Beer had been using a spreader with weigh cells, but soon found its limitations on the steep slopes around Kingsbridge.
“Our previous spreader was good at 20m but lost its accuracy at 24m, and it was never quite good enough on headlands or boundary work,” says Andrew. “We had seen enough stripes to know we had to find a more accurate way of applying fertiliser.”
Having seen the Vicon GEOSPREAD system at Cereals in 2016, RJ Beer finally moved towards high accuracy spreading at the start of 2017, when the 3450-litre capacity spreader arrived at Rake Farm, supplied by local dealer IDM Services.
“We wanted a five-bag capacity to improve logistics, and we also chose the Tellus GO terminal to give us a foot on the precision farming ladder,” he says. “And GPS has been brilliant – we’ll probably step-up to a Tellus Pro terminal next time, for greater field and job recording capability.”
Field sizes range from five to 60 acres, and forward speed is typically 13.5kph.
“It’s a really impressive piece of kit,” he says. “I just put the required rate in the terminal and the spreader does the rest. We do have our own trays, so we can double check what’s going on.”
But he says that the spreader can play mind games with you.
“And that’s because if I was controlling the spreader manually I would turn it on sooner, and turn it off later, but GPS has proved that I would be overlapping too much and wasting fertiliser. Our crops do look better, simply because they’re being better fed and our overlaps are non-existent.”
The increased accuracy has also helped the brothers to tweak field operations too.
“The spreader is so accurate, that we’ve been trialling a couple of fields without tramlines, to try to combat soil erosion and run-off on the steeper fields,” he says. “With GPS on the spreader, we know we won’t be compromising on application accuracy.”
“We never thought section control on a fertiliser spreader would be so good,” says Andrew Beer of RJ Beer Contracting.
9th March 2018