The individual attributes of vertical auger and horizontal beater muck spreaders mean each has a place, suggests the experience of one Northumberland contractor who has added both to his machinery fleet for distinct reasons. Weigh cells, though, have become an essential part of his spreaders’ specification regardless of machine format.
Driven by the need to apply a range of materials and the desire to top-dress combinable crops across 36m tramlines, Henzell Enterprises operates both a horizontal beater/spinning disc and a pair of vertical auger spreaders from its base at Elyhaugh, Longframlington, 30 miles north of Newcastle, where the firm was founded just twelve years ago. Rapid expansion since then means today the business employs nine full-time staff and two temporary workers, and now offers a full range of farm services, including lime and fertiliser spreading, cultivations and crop establishment, spraying, combining, baling and silage making. In addition, haulage, civil and industrial services make up further parts of the company’s offering, ensuring there are very few quiet periods in the year.
On the agricultural side, however, it’s the application to land of muck and other waste products that has remained a core element of the business since it began. While liquid wastes are taken care of with a pair of 16,000-litre tankers equipped with rain guns and LGP tyres, plus an umbilical hose spreading system with 24m dribble bar that allows spreading up to 2,500m away from store, it’s a trio of Bunning Lowlander spreaders that are the most in-demand machines in Henzell Enterprises’ manure application equipment fleet, largely due to their versatility.
“When I first worked away from the home farm I started a career in the waste industry, and that was a key reason why I went firstly into waste application to land when I began my contracting business in 2008,” explains Lee Henzell.
“That began mainly with cattle muck and sewage sludge, but soon developed to include other wastes. Today we also work for customers who ask us to spread material such as chicken manure, potato waste, compost, reed bed spoil and paper waste, and to a wide range of land and crops. Two things have really helped make this possible – the development of spinning discs and the availability of weigh cells.
“When we were looking to upgrade from our original machines back in 2014, we switched to Bunning spreaders, a decision based largely on build quality and specification. In addition, the company’s people were very approachable, and they understood clearly when we told them what we wanted.
“Through Rickerby, our local dealer, we bought a pair of 15-tonne capacity Lowlander HD vertical auger machines for general spreading work. They proved themselves to be well-built and robust, and processed and spread a range of materials well. Bunning also offered integral weigh cells, a feature that’s ideal for us as contractors, as it helps us to charge accurately by the tonne and aids our record-keeping. In future, farmer customers may have to show produce buyers what was spread on their land, and this technology will also help us here. And with the ability to automatically regulate the application rate via a Topcon rate controller, spreading is very accurate.
“We have a good relationship with Rickerby as we operate machinery from other franchises of theirs, and the quality of the Bunning machines, allied to the dealer’s backup, meant that when we wanted to expand our spreading services further by adding a horizontal beater machine with spinning discs to our fleet, we returned to them and to Bunning.”
The desire to expand the business’s spreading services offering was driven by the fact that a machine with spinning discs would allow the application of certain waste materials as a top dressing to combinable crops via tramlines up to 36m wide, Mr Henzell says.
“With this in mind, in 2016 we purchased a 15-tonne Lowlander HBD horizontal beater/spinning disc spreader, and response to it has been very good, with a lot of customers seeing the advantages of the spinning disc arrangement and what it can do for application to growing crops. The discs do an excellent job of spreading material out to the full 36m.
“Two years later we upgraded our original Lowlander vertical auger spreaders to new models, and are now also on our second horizontal beater twin-disc spreader. Having run them fox six years now, we are not only pleased with the way they perform and how easy they are to work with and maintain, but also in way they hold their value, keeping down the cost of ownership.”
With the machines run behind 280hp Fendt 828 tractors, and loaded using a 15-tonne 360-degree tracked excavator for fast turnaround and to help minimise the impact on the land around the heap, Mr Henzell reckons to be able to comfortably spread up to 100,000 tonnes of material each year through his three Bunning spreaders.
“Wherever possible, we operate the Lowlander HD vertical auger machines together as a pair, to get jobs finished quickly and efficiently. Running a low loader behind one tractor and drawing two spreaders together, plus a service van with diesel, AdBlue and service tools, we have everything we need to cover large jobs.
“I’ve tried to develop the business by thinking outside the box, and the ability to add to our spreading offering with developments such as weigh cells and spinning discs for tramline application to growing crops has really helped us here.”