KULIN farmer Derek Young was pushing the envelope in 1988.
He couldn't afford a tractor linked to a trailed boomsprayer so he did the next best thing and built a self-propelled model.
And he has been into SPs ever since.
His home-made "old girl" is still operating, equipped with a WeedIt spot sprayer.
But for the main events over his 2600ha (6500ac) program (usually between four and five spray programs) during the season, he uses Miller Nitro SP models.
His latest is the 5333, his third Nitro.
The front-mounted boom is a big attraction along with the ability to convert the Nitro into a swather, particularly for canola.
But Derek is now growing newer open-pollinated varieties that enable him to direct head.
It doesn't detract from the value of the front-mount boom.
"It's far easier to manoeuvre a boom in front of you," Derek said. "And there's no rubber necking to watch the boom.
"It's just a glance either side and that makes a big difference if you're on a 12 hour shift.
"You really do finish with no back aches and you don't feel completely tired."
With the benefit of knowledge from two earlier models, Derek still did his homework on the 5333 to ensure it ticked all the boxes, including hydro-static transmission, Cummins engine and very good suspension.
"We've got some undulating country so the extra horsepower doesn't go astray and we've opted for the five sensor boom (36m, 120ft) so boom stability is not a problem," he said.
There are a lot of new features on the 5333 that make spraying operations easier, including a bigger cab with a lot more glass to increase vision, an improved ride and more power (248kW, 333hp) from a Cummins engine, compared with his older model which boasted a power rating of 205kW (275hp).
Another feature Derek appreciates is the drop-down connection for water-fill and the adjacent drop-down chemical mixer located at the front of the sprayer behind the boom.
Just raise the boom and drive into your fill station.
"You also have a control panel on the drop-down arm for engine speed, pump and valve operation as well as 12 volt power for chemical pumps," Derek said.
Fellow Kulin farmer Barry West also has bought a 5333.
"It was time to upgrade so we bought the Nitro as a machine to handle our program now with the ability to do extra jobs like swathing or spot-spraying with a Weedseeker, down the track," he said.
Barry is particularly pleased with the integrated console with a Raven Viper controller as standard, which provides auto-boom shut-off, section control, variable rate if required and auto guidance.
"It also has got an option to blow air to clean out the boom lines," Barry said.
"The electronic-levelling of the front-mount boom is an added attraction."