Commonplace on tillage farms for many years, the TAMS grant has allowed dairy farms to invest in high-tech spreaders that will save fertiliser and money.

Sales and marketing director for Farmhand, the importer of Amazone machinery for Ireland, Stephen Scrivener explains: “When it comes to fertiliser spreaders, the Amazone ZA-V is becoming a very popular choice among dairy farmers due to its ease of use, cleaning and exceptional accuracy.

"The ZA-V is not a small investment, but a simple calculation shows that they can pay themselves off over a few years in saved fertiliser.”

Michael Farrell is a dairy farmer near Kilfeacle, Co Tipperary, milking 220-plus cows.

“We’re a grass-based system, we measure grass and we just keep replacement stock, there is no beef on the farm, it’s just dairy stock.

“My dad back 40, 50 years ago had Amazone spreaders and he wore out a good few of them in his time, so they’re a brand that’s there to stay and reliable!”

The benefits of a hydraulic ZA-V

“I collected this Amazone ZA-V off Hayes Agri the first week in June,” Michael explains.

“I chose the ZA-V model and also a hydro, because I looked into the various different spreaders again and I liked this idea of the hydraulic disc and variable speed on the headland management compared with a PTO machine.”

It is all about accuracy. Fertiliser is a significant cost and when you can reduce the quantity being used by improving accuracy and reducing double spreads, then you save money. As well as saving money and time, accurate fertiliser application is an important part of protecting the environment.

Amazone pays special attention to how the machines spread on the headland. Whether you opt for a limiter or a hydraulic spreader, you can precisely set how far the fertiliser spreads to the boundary, as well as shutting it off, so it doesn’t spread into the ditch.

The hydraulically-driven ZA-V Hydro spreader is electronically controlled from the cab, allowing you to control the speed of left or right disc individually and easily adjust the amount of fertiliser spread – even on the move!

“The border spreading is quite simple, it’s just a case of press a button and we can go left and right, the border spreader works on either side,” Michael explains.

“The tractor we operate the spreader with is a Massey Ferguson 6615, she’s a four-cylinder tractor, a heavy tractor and is quite capable of handling five 500kg bags in the back of the spreader,” Michael explains.

Control at the touch of a button

“The Amazone ZA-V in the field is quite user friendly. I have the AmaTron Twin second screen for the GPS, and I have my main screen with all the spreader controls and it’s quite simple after that.”

The ZA-V can be operated via the tractor terminal, or with the addition of a second terminal, the tractor terminal can continue to control the tractor, or it can also display the GPS application while the additional terminal monitors and controls the spreader.

Unique to Amazone, Michael opted for the Amatron Twin. This allows you to duplicate the Amazone control box with an iPad tablet instead of buying two control boxes. You can have the spreader working on one and the GPS on the other.

Weighing is winning

“When we go out to spread fertiliser now and we decide we want to spread X amount of kilos on a hectare, that’s what happens,” Michael explains.

“It’s not as before when we went out and we tried to get it as near as we possibly could, this thing will spread it accurately.”

The ZA-V takes all the guesswork out of spreading. The speed reading from the tractor, combined with the weigh cells constantly calibrating, means you can put out exactly the volume of fertiliser required, saving money and time as you won’t be running out with acres left to spread.

The weigh cells weigh the fertiliser 200 times per second and automatically adjusts the spread rate to ensure you are spot on.

“When I change different types of fertiliser, today we’re spreading 18:6:12, I would have downloaded an app on my phone in the beginning,” Michael explains.

“I go on to that app and it’ll tell me for the type of fertiliser I’m going spreading, where the veins should be on the disc. On the main screen then, it’s just a case of punch in kilos per hectare and away you go.”

The Amazone MySpreader app is available to all Amazone spreader operators. The app is loaded with most of the fertilisers available in Ireland and gives the user setup information.

This service is constantly kept up to date to ensure the user has access to current information at the start of every season.

When section control is combined with weigh cells and a GPS system, Amazone claims that the accuracy is 10% or more than a more basic spreader. When you add this to the savings that the TAMS grant can now provide, it is a once-in-a-lifetime investment for any farmer.

Added benefits as standard

“My favourite thing about the spreader are simple things. On either side of the spreader, we have a ladder as standard, you can climb up at the side, out of harm's way, and cut your bag open,” Michael explains.

“Then when you take off your spreader, the wheels are standard on it. They’re fixed, you don’t have to put them on, just fold them down at the press of your foot, when you take off your spreader on concrete you can roll it away. When you’re putting [the spreader] back on, you back your tractor in close to it, not to it, and you roll your spreader to the tractor.”

Like many Amazone spreaders, the ZA-V has a high-quality roller tarpaulin cover. This rolls away and is taut, so water doesn’t pool in it.

“The cover on the spreader is very simple to use, there is no weight or pressure to open the cover,” Michael explains.

“There is another option that you can leave the cover partially open when you’re finished washing your spreader so that the air can get in to dry it out.”

“The spreader is easy to wash, it’s actually very washable friendly, and there are big rubber flaps there on the front that keeps all the cow manure from going back on the discs.”

The ZA-V hopper is pressed out of one piece of sheet steel, which means there are no corners or welds for fertiliser to gather. This makes it exceptionally strong and easy to wash out.

Spreader of choice for dairy farmers

The ZA-V spreader is available in hopper capacities from 1,400l to 4,200l, PTO and hydro, GPS and without.

ISOBUS communication, weighing system, the hydraulic or electric limiter V or V+ border spreading systems, plus the many other optional extras, make the ZA-V one of the most modern fertiliser spreaders in its class and there is a model to suit all farmers.

“If somebody asked me and they came into the yard to look at the spreader and they asked me what I thought of the spreader or other spreaders, I would say to them 'well, I did look at other spreaders, but the Amazone is the best',” Michael concluded.

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