The trend in fertilizer application today, according to manufacturers at Farm Progress 2010, is to go larger to cover more acreage, provide more flexibility of applications and be more precise.

“Everybody’s demanding wider, faster, higher-rate kind of stuff,” says Nick Jensen, president of THURSTON MFG. CO., the manufacturers of Blu-Jet fertilizer toolbars. The company’s new AT6020 60-foot applicator comes equipped with the HDI ammonia delivery system, with a double-piston John Blue NH3 pump and single heat exchanger that handles 20,000 lb. per hour.

“That system allows us to build toolbars at wider widths and run at faster speeds and that’s what customers are demanding,” Jensen adds.

Bill Preller, director of sales and marketing for CASE IH, says it launched the new Nutri-Placer 940 to meet the demands of twin market segments — the custom applicator and the large-acreage farmer, both of whom need to get across a lot of acres. “So we’re seeing a trend toward higher-acreage, higher-duty cycles and heavier-built construction.”

But not only is the ruggedness and size of the toolbar important. Tom Evans of GREAT PLAINS MFG., says timing of fertilizer application is slowly moving toward spring pre-plant and sidedress applications rather than fall applications because the cost of fertilizer is too great to lose to rain events. That leads to environmental concerns as well.

“We built the Nutri-Pro in a 3-coulter configuration with double-row cleaners for spring applications,” Evans says. “In a sense it’s like a strip-till machine without the hillers or hippers, but it runs a lead coulter and two trailing coulters that are 4 in. off to each side to till a 12-in. strip. You can put on any source of fertilizer with double manifolds, such as putting P and K in one and N in the other.”

Dawn fertilizer systemJoe Bassett, director of operations for DAWN EQUIPMENT CO., says dealers need to become more familiar with the units that put the fertilizer in the ground. They are being built to provide growers more flexibility with timing of application and source of material. Dawn launched the model 6000 Anhydra fertilizer unit that can apply anhydrous, dry or liquid, as well as manure.

“The key to profitability for growers in the future is getting the right amount on in exactly the right place at the exact right time, so we are making tools that are really flexible, that open up wider windows of operation, can run in wetter and colder conditions and can be used with flexibility for both sidedress or as quasi-strip-till devices,” Bassett adds.

MIKRO-TRAK unveiled its Dual Liquifier Kit for anhydrous ammonia application, designed for operators with toolbars of 60 ft. or larger. The units are rated for up to 14,000 lb. of NH3 per hour. “This may help the guys push their limits a bit more,” says Mikro-Trak’s Rex McClellan. “The head exchangers are stainless steel, which means less rust and a longer life span.” McClellan adds the units are sealed, so there are no o-rings to contend with.

>> Click here to read the rest of FE's 2010 Farm Progress report