New Fertilizer Spreader (Everyone please read)

Discussion in 'Fertilizer Application' started by zimmatic, Jan 27, 2008.

  1. zimmatic

    zimmatic LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 416

    Due to rising fertilizer prices in the past 5 years would you buy a new fertilizer spreader that is precise on its application rate and spread?

    I know a lot of people on this site use permagreen and Z my issue with them is that how do you know your exact rate of application? I know you calibrate it the best you can. However, if apply $25000 or 2000 worth of fertilizer and you are off by 2 or 5 or 10% in calibration isn’t that a lot of money to me it is.

    I have looked at the dry fertilizer spreaders that the Ag industry uses, a 2-ton to 6-ton models. (such as a tyler or willimar spreader)
    It has a chain bottom floor (technically called a flat wire belt) connected to a drive that runs off of the spreaders floatation wheels. This is used because it controls the speed of the chain, so if you speed up in ground speed the chain increases also. The only constant is the speed of the impeller/spreader wheel. The tractor’s pto must be operating at 540rpms or a constant so spread distribution is the same. The other adjustment is fertilizer door. If the door is opened 1” only so much fert can get by a 1” opening thus this regulates the pound per acre. You can also open the door wider to apply more.

    I am trying to condense this down into a 125-pound version that uses 2 DC motors that are regulated by a radar/ground speed sensor. Obviously I would have it all calibrated so all an operator has to do is look at the flow chart and open the gate/door for the fertilizer. The rest would be turn on the spreader and go. If you go 2mph or 10 mph the corect apount would be applied for the speed of the machine.
    Baring corrosion issues with wiring, the rest would be stainless would you buy it and what would you pay for accuracy?

    Or what other issues should this spreader address that other spreaders have shortfalls with? I am close to completion and calibration programming will begin and I would like other input.
  2. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,969


    Good Subject. Calibration is so ever important from both a cost and environmentally aspect. I try and keep tabs on all my applications. Be aware of the actual sq ft of each customers property and the product you used, should be SOP. Constantly checking your equipment for proper calibration is smart business. Good equipment helps do this. I use a Walker Lawn Mower for spreading because the Walker's speed can be set to a constant speed easily. Gear Drive walk Behinds can also run at a fairly constant speed. Most Hydro equipment is subject to operator error when trying to maintain a constant speed.

    The Lawn Doctor Franchise has a spreader sprayer that does adjust for ground speed automatically. I have never looked closely at the machine only read about it here, so can't tell you much about it. However they are so proprietary that they only lease them to their franchisee and won't sell them.

    The way I get around this is to calculate in a 10% overage into my material cost when pricing. However as our costs rise we must be more and more conscience of our place in the expendable income market. People will only spend so much for green grass, after all they can't eat it.
  3. rcreech

    rcreech Sponsor
    Male, from OHIO
    Messages: 6,163

    I see your point, but I think that the ride on units do a great job and are very easy to calibrate.

    Infact...I think that the ride on units are even more accure vs a person walking the product on!

    Our machines at the correct RPM go the same speed all day! A person walking will get tired after a long day or hilly lawns.

    Calibration is key, but I think ride on units is a quick fix and work great. Sure there could be better options, but cost and low maintenance is key!
  4. ted putnam

    ted putnam LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,755

    I'm with Ric. As fertilizer costs continue to increase accuracy will become more of an issue in controlling costs and ultimately what the customer has to be charged by us and pay to us. It's hard to say what someone would pay for that ability. I think that can all be worked out when you get it finished( at least a prototype) and see how well it really works and what you actually have in it. This great country was founded on the spirit of invention. I say go for it, see what you come up with. Of course, protect your rights to it. Who knows, You may make a bunch of money from it. If nothing else you may have something that fits your needs perfectly.
  5. bill8379

    bill8379 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 778

    I'd like to ask a touchy question. It's touchy because it might make me look like an Idiot:laugh:

    Last year when I started with a cheap broadcast spreader I was told to put the number on half and go up and down one way then go over the lawn again the other way. This was to make a even spread but I ended putting it on full (number 5 I think it was) and just going over the lawns once. I only had a few customers.

    But I thought I seen the big companys here doing that as well. Do you guys spread on half once or full twice?

    Also, I hear so many bad things about the drop spreader but in that other thread about Foam markers, that looked to be extremely precise. What's your thoughts on that?
  6. ted putnam

    ted putnam LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,755

    Broadcast spreaders are the way to go for sure. They are much more forgiving than a drop spreader. Drop spreaders have their advantages, just not on a wide open lawn. I go over mine once at the recommended rate. I overlap to the tire tracks of the last pass. If you do this, there should be no problem.
  7. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,969


    Your question isn't stupid at all. The fact is when I taught Material calculation, I taught cross hatching or half rate twice. You get a more even coverage. People find it faster to apply once at full rate and will sometimes end up striping a lawn. An other reason for full rate application is the directions on the bag. They give only an approximate hopper setting for full rate applications. No Matter if you do half or full rate application, Those recommended settings are only a starting point. Each spreader of the same manufacture will be different and every ones ground speed of walking Stride is different. For true calibration you must do it yourself and not use another's spreader that they calibrate for you. You must stay ever conscience of that calibration setting because it will change.

    Be careful when you go half Rate. Prill size will make a big difference as you close the hole size. Elite prill size will be easier to apply at lower settings, Standard prill size will tend to clog and not be consistent. This is another reason people go full rate applications.
  8. sclawndr

    sclawndr LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 326

    Unfortunately, it's impossible to get too accurate. Even if you are able to determine the exact spreader setting, you can still be off if your pattern isn't precise or if it's humid out and the fertilizer swells a little bit, etc. And there's always a certain amount of waste - curb strips for example or any other area that is narrower than the spreader pattern. We build 10% into our equations to allow for all of this. It would be more helpful to make sure your equipment is clean, dry, operating properly and traveling at a consistent speed in a consistent pattern. Good calibration takes all of these factors into account.
  9. rcreech

    rcreech Sponsor
    Male, from OHIO
    Messages: 6,163


    Yes fert prices are going up and we all need to be conscious of this, but I don't think our spreaders need to be any more fine tuned then before!

    What I am saying should always have a good calibration!

    I keep an eye on what I use all day! If I know I am going on a 15 or 16K lawn, I try and get my PG hopper totally empty before I go onto that lawn. That is a good way to "check" yourself.

    I make sure on each job that I don't use more then I am supposed to as things can change!


    You have a good idea...but I can promise you that the big buggy's are not any more precise then what we use on lawns. I also farm and trust me these spereaders have their drawbacks.

    It does take ground speed out of the question, but I don't think that is a big deal. I am always at "full speed" when I am spreading. It is just using a web instead of gravity!
  10. Rayholio

    Rayholio LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,461

    I Really think the industry NEEDs a granular system which is speed correcting. even if it was an aftermarket add-on to existing pgs or Z-sprays, I think it would sell big.

    I've yet to find a machine that runs at 'full speed, all the time'.. sometimes you have to slow down to get around obsticals.. hills, or most common is just turning for your second pass...

    Anyone have a Pic of the magical franchise machine?

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