A productive way of reducing input costs


Agribusiness
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FIRST it was just dad working out in the paddock. These days, many dads have either gone to that great farm in the sky or are consigned to gopher work.

THERE'S just no getting away from productivity.

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First it was just dad working out in the paddock.

The productivity levels increased when he could afford a farm worker and you could track an exponential path to greater productivity when sons and daughters grew up or dad could afford another tractor and another farm worker.

These days, many dads have either gone to that great farm in the sky or are consigned to gopher work.

The lucky ones still get to drive modern equipment while copping an ear-bashing from productive-alert sons for pushing the wrong buttons or dialling in the wrong rates.

As an enthusiastic US company marketing director once told me, with the distinctive twang: "We're in an age where PROductivity is king".

For today's farmers, productivity is a truism, in an age where cost is king.

So anything that can sharpen cost efficiencies gets farmers' attention.

For Wittenoom Hills farmer Keith Green, it was a Croplands RoGator 1300.

He bought it from PH Kerr, Esperance in March last year and with 560 hours of operation he has plenty of recorded performance figures.

He upgraded from a front wheel-assist tractor pulling a 5000 litre tank and 36m (120ft) boom to the 1300 which boasts a 6400L tank matched to a 36m boom.

For Keith, it's a tick for increased productivity and a tick for very good fuel consumption.

"I'm getting eight tanks of spray to one tank of diesel," he said. "Roughly I'm using about 26 litres an hour and we can stay out in the paddock to spray 120 to 125ha before we need to return for a fill."

With some SP models you could easily chew through 40-plus litres an hour, so perhaps that should be a big tick for fuel consumption.

"It's (fuel consumption) about line ball with the front wheel-assist tractor I was using before but the bonus is that I'm getting more done in a day," Keith said. "And I'm not shaking to pieces because the RoGator is smoother to operate.

"The big reason why I bought the RoGator was the ride and the need for a bit more capacity."

With an increased cropping program, increased productivity becomes crucial, especially in a year when you've had plenty of early rain and weeds are jumping out of the warm ground.

Then there's the ability to play the season with less in-crop damage for foliar programs or dessicating crops like canola.

And because of the tank size, we are able to use high water rates when foliar spraying fungicides.

According to Keith, he would find it hard to go back to so-called tug-along spraying.

"The RoGator has got heaps of power and the seven speed transmission can get me up to 58km/h on the road which is terrific getting between paddocks and a big improvement on the tractor."

A SISU engine develops 252kW (339hp) with a peak rating of 270kW (370hp) with a pressure-compensated drive system.

This type of drive system monitors drive pressure and automatically changes to a lower speed range, reducing drive system load while maintaining the engine RPMs. It also provides increased acceleration back to desired spray speed.

The drive system consists of two primary components - a hydraulic motor and a gear reduction hub with the same parts used on all four corners. According to Croplands, the system delivers more power to the ground, more efficiently and during transport, the engine runs at lower speeds (1900 rpm versus 2100 rpm).

These machines also feature unlimited wheel spacing from 30-39cm (110-12.5ft) and a 12.7cm (50in) crop clearance.

A page in the RoGator Management Center (RMC) lets you see exactly where the rear axle is without having to get out of the cab. You can even set the front and rear wheels at different row spacing to help reduce compaction or crop damage.

A bolted C-channel flex-frame design and heavy-duty cross members provides the stability for a smoother ride and is underlined by the fact one wheel can lift as high as 1.2m (48in) while the other wheels still

maintain contact with the ground.

An air suspension with an anti-roll system on the front and rear axles smooths out your ride while keeping the booms at a consistent height.

The front axle uses longitudinal A-torque arms to prevent motion transfer to the chassis so it's easier to hold row lines, while making turning easier.

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