We continue talking about why sprayer re-equipment is a necessary and popular case for many progressive agribusinesses. This time we are talking about the automatic section control with Andriy Kiyanenko, the innovation implementation department head at the Myronivskyi Khliboprodukt (MHP) Company.
Ukrainian farmers start increasingly implementing the precision farming methods in their business. Modern developments allow solving any agribusiness problems many times faster and more efficiently than “proven techniques”, all the more so, because most of the new techniques are well compatible with the old ones. While small and medium-sized businesses are just taking the path of using innovations, large agribusinesses and holdings have long plunged in this process.
Where do PPP go?
The sprayer re-equipment with automatic section control systems, performed by MHP, is an outstanding example of an intelligent and balanced approach to solving the issue of uneven plant protection products application. We can safely call the agribusiness holding one of the leaders in technological innovations application.
Four years ago, we made precision farming our policy, and the sprayer re-equipment was one of the stages of its implementation. Later, this approach ensured 4 to 6% PPP economy in the regular shape fields and up to 20% in our fields with complex geometry
The matter is that using the classic methods – manual machinery and sprayer injector controls – the plant protection products are applied unevenly: some of the plants are treated repeatedly, and some never receive PPP at all.
Applying a double amount of agrichemicals onto plants is the main issue of inefficient PPP application. If the amount is insufficient, the chemicals will not work. If it is excessive, the plants will get “burns”. It was crucial for us to avoid the double application on overlaps,
A machine operator is not always able to shut down the appropriate sprayer nozzles. Consequently, crops get stressed, and the company spends extra funds on excessively applied PPP. That is about plots with regular shapes. The PPP application on plots with complex geometry may become a nightmare for the operator.
Using old sprayers is inefficient, as this machinery does not work correctly – it has worn parts accountable for PPP application quality. As a consequence, the gaps and overlaps issue arises. When overlapped, plants receive a double dose inhibiting their development. However, when there are gaps, plants remain vulnerable to disease due to the lack of PPP treatment. Depending on the field geometry and peculiarities, the PPP overconsumption can reach 30% for small farms and about 15% for large agribusinesses. Installing autopilots and automatic section control systems onto machinery allows saving 6 to 10% of plant protection products.
Earlier, we wrote about how the installed autopilot improves the PPP application efficiency and minimizes crops loss.
Full PPP application control
New technologies implementation, existing machinery improvement and re-equipment, and innovation indicate a positive trend which MHP follows.
The company’s professionals analyzed the PPP application using a sprayer. They tested the SpraCoupe 4600 sprayer treating a 73-hectares field seeded with rape. The map below shows areas with plants treated with PPP double dose on overlaps. The agribusiness specialists estimated that the total area of such “patches” was 4.1 hectares when treating this field.
The map of overlaps formed using a sprayer with no automatic section control. According to MHP
It should be noted that the sprayer was operated using an autopilot system, and due to parallel driving, the agribusiness holding has already saved a good part of their PPP. Besides, this field’s geometry is not so complex. However, even in this field, the PPP overconsumption equaled 5.6% only due to the overlaps. The automatic section control system, installed on the machinery, has made it possible to save that 5.6% of agrichemicals.
Furthermore, due to the crops stress in this same area, the yield is much lower, resulting in substantial profit loss. When we talk about more complex areas, agribusinesses lose even more PPP due to their excessive consumption, and even more crops are exposed to stress.
The company’s management has interpolated the obtained data for the total crops area where PPP were applied and assessed the extent of unnecessary financial expenditure. The agribusiness holding has come to a decision to solve this problem, introducing new technologies and re-equipped more than 40 of its sprayers with an automatic section control systems, making them “smart”.
We’ve installed the Raven and Hexagon autopilot systems on our self-propelled sprayers. They suit us by all their specifications. Working with Raven, we use their dedicated portal called Slingshot – we download files applicable to our machinery from their cloud storage. In the case of Hexagon, we are now working to drop files directly to our servers,- Kiyanenko says.
What is the point of this re-equipment routine? Automatic section control installation allows delivering the PPP solution to each spray nozzle automatically and maintaining the same pressure in the spraying boom. The control of this kind nullifies the probability of the formation of different droplet volumes, reduces the amount of agrichemicals spilled, and guarantees PPP even application regardless of the sprayer speed differences.
Re-equipment of sprayers with automatic section control systems allowed the MHP Company to rationally apply PPP, and consequently, save the average of 5 to 6% on funds. According to Kiyanenko, the modernization fully proved its value. It paid off in less than a year.
Never look back!
The agribusiness holding is not going to rest on its laurels, but on the contrary, it continues to implement precision farming at ever greater rates.
We are now working to re-equip our seed drills. But we’ve faced another problem. Our machine operators don’t often know how to handle the new modern machinery which has already been upgraded. That’s why we are implementing precision farming gradually, training our employees and giving them time to adapt comfortably to all the improvements,-
Moreover, last year, MHP built an RTK station network. At the moment, the network includes 17 stations which provide reliable reception coverage to all locations engaged in business. Additionally, the company implemented autopilot driving systems to help drivers know their way around better when conducting all technological operations.
“Previously, we had special job positions – to stand on the edge of the field with a bright flag to help drivers find their bearing. Automatic and parallel driving techniques allow the system to steer the tractor the right way, avoiding poaching damage,” Kiyanenko explains.
The success of any agribusiness, be it a small farm or a huge holding, depends on their efficiently conducted technological operations. Experience has proven that those companies that use new innovative solutions and are not afraid to change and experiment become market leaders and serve as an example of efficient business operation.