Based just outside the village of Fenagh in Co Carlow, Pat Lennon runs a mixed farming enterprise. When the Irish Farmers Journal visited, he was getting ready to face into lambing 120 ewes, getting machinery ready for spring tillage work and was applying 10-10-20 to winter-sown barley.
Pat grows in the region of 250-300 acres of crops, and houses dairy heifers for the winter.
Seeing the advantages in GPS-controlled fertiliser spreading on neighbouring farms, he was convinced and went about looking into the costs involved.
Running Amazone spreaders on the home farm for 30-40 years, Pat had only upgraded his last standard Amazone spreader two years earlier.
Although he was more than happy with the Amazone spreaders, he opted for a new Lemken Polaris 14 machine and took delivery in the autumn of 2021.
“I decided to go with a new Lemken spreader almost totally down to one reason – it was compatible with the CCI universal Isobus terminal and joystick which I had already set up in my tractor. I bought a new trailed sprayer a few years ago and I opted for this type of control. It’s a 12in touchscreen universal Isobus terminal which is compatible with quite a few different manufacturers. It’s a gift – I can split the screen several ways and set it up anyway I wish.
“For example, I have my spreader settings such as application rate, live feed from the weigh cells, working width, type of fertiliser being applied, GPS and forward speed all neatly displayed on the screen. If I want to make alterations to settings, I can either do this through the joystick which has button control, or by touching the screen. It’s very simple – it’s like using a mobile phone. The other big plus here is that I have the joystick set up in such a way that my sprayer and spreader settings on the joystick are the exact same.”
The terminal can accommodate section control, rate control, a range of layouts, task control, tramline control, display of up to eight cameras, online data exchange and site-specific application with maps etc.
Pat adds: “My local dealer F Jenkinson Ltd in Bagenalstown also took on the Lemken agency a few years ago. Proximity to him, and the backup service from Lemken, was also a deciding factor. Regardless of all this, without the help of the TAMS grant aid, I wouldn’t have been able to justify the investment. I only spread 60-100t each year, but at least now I’m confident I’m achieving accurate placement.”
Sulky actually builds the fertiliser spreaders for Lemken. Sulky and Lemken entered an agreement in 2019, whereby Sulky’s range of fertiliser spreaders would be branded and distributed in a number of European markets in Lemken livery.
Pat’s Polaris 14 is part of the manufacturer’s flagship spreader lineup. This is the 3,000l model, which is the second-largest mounted spreader in the range. It features a 1,000l lower capacity than the flagship offering, but features the same technology and mechanical setup at the business end of the machine.
The spreader comes with the option of three vane types, offering spreading widths from 18m to 44m. Spreading all fertiliser on grassland and corn at 24m bout widths, Pat had the flexibility of choosing either 18-28m vanes or the 24-36m vanes. Each disc has a long and a short vane.
The unit comes as standard with hard-faced vanes which are double vanes, meaning two flows of granules are handled, one top and one bottom. Pat noted that no wear whatsoever is visible on the vanes to date.
Lemken spreaders achieve section control by keeping the speed of the outwards-turning discs constant at 540rpm. Instead of changing speed, the fertiliser’s drop point and shutter position are altered. The Polaris 14 features 12-part sections. Pat explained he is very happy with the simplicity of the spreader’s section control.
The spreader is equipped with the Tribord 3D border spreading unit on both sides of the machine, which is an optional extra, allowing border spreading in either direction. The border spreading function is engaged and disengaged via the control screen by adjusting the shutter’s electric actuator.
The Lemken/Sulky Econov control system features an eco-intensive border mode for spreading along areas such as watercourses. It reduces both the PTO speed and application rate by 15%, with all fertiliser flowing through the Tribord border vane, so that no fertiliser enters the watercourse.
Calibration and weighing
“I have probably tray tested about 10 times since the spreader arrived. The spreader has been bang on accurate almost every time so far. I think the Lemken Fertitest app is a great job – it has a huge array of fertilisers tested in test halls. I have tray tested the same type of fertiliser as used in the app, and the settings are very accurate. Once the vane type, spread width and T-factor (granule size and flowrate) are inputted, the spreader electronically adjusts itself. It probably takes 20-30 minutes to properly calibrate the machine,” says Pat.
When it’s working in the field, Lemken says the spreader recalibrates and adjusts its shutter position every 30 seconds or every 100kg to improve accuracy. If the tractor’s forward speed changes, then the flowrate will change accordingly to maintain the set application rate.
“I’m very happy with the Lemken spreader. I can pick out no major faults, only one or two very minor bits. Once set up, I find the spreader extremely accurate. I have great confidence in it. It takes the thinking out of it for the operator. I don’t run autosteer in the tractor, but use manual guidance. I just need to worry about keeping on track, and the spreader looks after the rest,” said Pat.
Model: Polaris 14.
Spread width: 18m to 44m.
Hopper capacity: 3,000l.
Empty weight: 585kg.
Drive type: PTO.
Section control method: drop point and shutter adjustment.
Polaris price range: €18,000-€28,000 plus VAT, depending on spec.