“I wonder what my father and grandfather would have said if they had seen it,” says Johan Landman of Volksrust. He’s referring to the new MF 9330 self-propelled sprayer which has just arrived to boost the ranks of the Massey Ferguson team serving the JaJoLa Boerdery in their crop protection efforts.
Johan still remembers the same operation in his childhood – teams of labourers, every man and woman with a bottle of poison mix to dose every mealie ear to kill the caterpillars. But that is not all that he remembers.
“I was born in that generation. I still remember very well, when I was four to five years old, that my father and his men started yoking the teams of oxen to hook up with the ploughs waiting in the lands. There was a red team, a black team, and a motley team. They started ploughing by five in the morning with a break at about ten o’clock. The oxen were then outspanned near water and allowed to graze before the afternoon shift.”
Johan also remembers the first time the “Vaaljapie” – the TE20 Ferguson tractor –arrived on the farm to take over the two-share plough from the oxen. This speeded up the ploughing process and the work could continue non-stop for the whole day.
“The tractor was paraffin-driven but had to be started on petrol. Once the engine had warmed up, the fuel tap would be switched over to power paraffin, commonly known as ‘Voco’. After the Vaaljapie came the 35 and then the 135; followed later by the 65 Ferguson with its long nose, and even later the 188’s. That is how we became MF people and today we are still loyal to the brand; we are Massey Ferguson people!”
Johan’s son, Japie, is the sixth generation Landman to farm the Landman lands. Similar to the string of Massey Fergusons, a string of Landmans was born to continue the legacy. Today Japie is responsible for crop farming and his father, Johan’s focus is on animal husbandry.
“I’m fond of the new technology,” says Johan, “but Japie is the younger generation who understands it better.”
Japie says their previous sprayer did not have the capacity to deal with the work in the available time window. He saw the MF 9330 in the act in Brazil and back home consulted his local MF dealer, Werner Nel of JWL.
JWL is one of the dealers country-wide that distribute the range of agricultural mechanisation solutions from top manufacturer, AGCO. Brands in the AGCO corral are Massey Ferguson, Valtra, Fendt and Challenger.
AGCO recently decided to play a bigger role in the direct importation and distribution of these brands in Africa to establish a shorter, direct route to the farmer.
Lenard Langenfelder, regional representative of AGCO in the Eastern Region, says farmers will still be able to obtain all the products and services from their well-known local dealers, but AGCO now supports these dealers directly with the procurement of products, technical know–how and marketing.
The office section in the giant AGCO warehouse in Kempton Park was enlarged recently to accommodate an expanded team. Werner, with the assistance of AGCO, recently availed a test unit to Japie, which he used on the farm for approximately 250 hours before he took ownership of his own MF 9330 high-rise sprayer.
The sprayer had to be deployed immediately because the mealies were growing at an astounding pace after a copious amount of rain in the area. An official handover ceremony was arranged for 15 December and ProAgri was present to view the new technology.
The sprayer really has long legs. For Japie, ground clearance is an important factor. It means he can also spray late in the season when the maize is at its highest. The sprayer has a ground clearance of 1,65 m, and the beam can be raised to a height of 2,1 m, or lowered to a mere 0,7 m. This enables effective pre-emergence spraying of newly planted mealies. The beam is 30 m long, but stability over uneven terrain presents no problems.
Robbie Hall, AGCO’s technical product manager, says this third generation sprayer in the 9-series (that is what the ‘93’ in the MF 9330 represents) is fitted with a Norac 9 ultrasonic system. Similar to a bat, the units send and receive sound waves to determine and maintain the height. One can select to maintain a specific height above soil or plant level and the height can be adjusted without stopping the machine.
Japie says another major consideration in favour of the MF 9330 was the fact that it was already fitted with all the advanced precision technology. “There was no need to invest in further equipment program packages to enable precision applications with automatic steering technology. Everything is fitted as standard on the machine.”
There are two touchscreens in the cabin. On the top screen the track the sprayer has to follow, and the application of spray, can be set, and on the lower screen the operator can see exactly what the situation is in every section of the sprayer. The information can be relayed by telematics to the computer in your office or to your cell phone or be downloaded from a USB port.
The beam can be divided in seven to nine sections; closing down a section is facilitated with air pressure, which is quicker than the electric control of certain other sprayers. The sprayer also compensates automatically during turns by sending more liquid to the outside arm than to the inside arm, ensuring that there wouldn’t be a spot that is left unsprayed.
“Everything is aimed at the sprayer working smoothly and exact in spite of any changeable factors such as uneven terrain. There are no welded joints on the flexible chassis and even when the wheels lift over bumpy terrain, or lower into depressions, the beam remains at a constant height.
“What I also appreciate,” says Japie, “is that advanced technology is applied, but the operation is simple. One is not overwhelmed when climbing into the cabin and seeing an environment resembling a spaceship: there is a steering wheel, a control system in the arm support and two screens, allowing the operator to do everything required to ensure a quality crop.”
The 30 at the end of the MF 9330 model number denotes that the sprayer has a 3 000-litre tank. There is also the MF 9335 with a 3 500-litre tank. Japie says he can go a long way with 3 000 litres and refilling is straightforward with the aid of the 568-litre/minute refuelling pump, which can also pump water from a dam if required.
The tank is fitted with a set of double hydraulic stirrers to ensure even mixing and, when you want to change the spray formula, the tank is cleaned with a spray from the 240-litre clean water tank with an oscillating spray nozzle.
Furthermore, there is a tank for handwashing with a tap at a convenient height. To fill the tank with spray liquid, the spray tank – with a wide filler opening – is pulled down from above to hip height to ease the operation and prevent danger or spilling of the spray liquid.
All four wheels of the spray have hydrostatic drive and double action valves, ensuring that they receive the required oil flow, even if the engine is running at low revolutions such as 1500 rpm. The front wheels do the turning work and the turning circle is a tight 7,6 m. The dependable 6,6-litre, six-cylinder AGCO Power engine is the heartbeat of the sprayer.