TerraGator: Making Cents

Diesel prices remained fairly steady during the first three quarters of 2010, then jumped in the fourth quarter to more than $3 per gallon. For 2011, the price is expected to continue to climb, averaging $3.23 per gallon according to the Energy Information Administration’s December 7 projections — more than 7% higher than 2010. Fuel prices, among other rising operating costs, are an unpleasant reality for retailers and producers alike.

With fuel prices in mind, it was with a bit of trepidation Dustin Eh­ler replaced his company’s 2003 Terra­Gator 8103 floatation applicator with a new Tier III-compliant 2011 model TerraGator 8303 equipped with AGCO‘s exclusive continuously variable transmission (CVT), TerraGator Management System (TMS) and AGCO SISU POWER 8.4L diesel engine.

“Not being a big fan of Tier III emissions, I was anticipating the machine to burn about the same amount of fuel as our three other air spreaders — somewhere around 11 gallons per hour,” relates Ehler, co-owner/fertilizer plant manager for Ehler Brothers, Thomasboro, IL, a retail crop input business which operates a fleet of 15 AGCO application machines servicing more than 150,000 acres annually.

Ehler often finds himself behind the wheel of an application machine. An end-of-the day refueling experience caught his attention and proved to be a pleasant surprise.

“The other operator and I pulled in at the same time to fuel for the next day,” he explains. “He was running the new 8303 and I was in an 8103. We’d both been out for a 10-hour day covering the same number of acres on the same type of terrain. He reset the meter on the fuel pump before filling and it clicked off at 60 gallons.

“That caught me a little off guard, so I reset the meter again, and it took between 90 and 100 gallons to refill my machine.”

A Big Savings

In a business where fuel accounts for 20% to 25% of operating costs, Ehler was quick to do the math and calculated fuel savings of $7,500 per year with the new 8303 applicator.

More than 1,700 miles west and offering dry application services to an entirely different array of cropping systems than found in the Midwest, Mike Anderson, owner of Anderson Custom Application, Caldwell, ID, had a very similar experience with the fuel efficiency of his new 8303.

“I don’t have exact numbers, but I know I’m saving at least 10 percent a day on fuel costs,” says Anderson. “If I’m saving around $35 a day, that’s from $600 to $700 per month, which definitely adds up.”

Anderson also has experienced an improvement in his overall efficiency due to the shuttle-shift operation of the CVT. Operating in an area where many fields are just 20 to 30 acres, it can be tough to cover acres quickly because of time backing into field corners and slowing for frequent turns.

“The shuttle shift is so much quicker when backing up because you don’t have to wait for the machine to come to a complete stop, and it’s definitely easier on the transmission,” Anderson explains. “The linear acceleration is very smooth and the CVT combined with the TMS keeps the engine speed constant. That way, we keep the RPMs up and get a very consistent spread pattern all the way to the edge of the field regardless of the machine’s ground speed.” Ander­son spreads between 1,000 and 1,400 pounds to the acre and has even applied up to 3,000 pounds to some fields.

“Out here, we run from 7 to 14 mph depending on the rate we’re applying. The 8303 TerraGator handles any speed we need to go and does a beautiful job. It is awesome,” Anderson says.

Leave a Reply

Sprayers Stories

SprayersHooded Sprayers Help Minimize Spray Drift
May 15, 2014
Willmar Fabrica­tion's hooded sprayers have the potential to minimize pesticide drift, especially when combined with other drift reduction technologies, such as drift retardant adjuvants or low-drift nozzles. Read More
Sprayers14 Self-Propelled Sprayers For 2014
January 16, 2014
Ag retailers looking for new self-propelled sprayers will have these models to choose from this year. Read More
Case IH 2240 Patriot Sprayer
SprayersNew Patriot Sprayer Wins 2013 CropLife IRON Product Of The Year
January 13, 2014
Case IH’s new Patriot 2240 self-propelled sprayer has been named one of the winners of the 2013 CropLife IRON Product of the Year trophy. Read More
EquipmentHagie Launching Redesigned STS Sprayers In 2014
December 11, 2013
The new 2014 STS self-propelled sprayer product line features a new drive system, cab design, engine and solution system for optimal operator efficiency, safety and performance. Read More

Trending Articles

Green Valley Ag facility
Retail FacilitiesGreen Valley Ag Adopts A.J. Sackett’s Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology At New Facility
July 8, 2014
Sackett's Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology is making huge strides around the world. Green Valley Ag adopts the technology at its new facility to support its advancing agronomic needs. Read More
Retail FacilitiesWaconia Manufacturing Builds Facility Designed For Speed, Efficiency
July 7, 2014
To make its new hub facility more efficient, Cooperative Elevator enlisted the aid of Waconia Manufacturing. Read More
EquipmentSummer Show Preview 2014: Superior Sprayers Take The Field
July 3, 2014
In this final installment of our coverage of the major categories of Big IRON that retailers can expect to test-drive at this summer’s events, here is a look at 19 sprayers. Read More
Scouting a soybean patch at Green Valley Ag.
EmployeesCropLife Compensation Survey: Battling Talent Drain
July 2, 2014
Retailers too often lose employees to companies outside of agriculture, while recruiting efforts are most often limited to competitors and other ag-focused organizations. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces SureStart II Herbicide
June 16, 2014
The enhanced formulation has improved viscosity and increased stability under heat and controls more than 60 high-anxiety grasses and broadleaf weeds found in corn fields. Read More
HerbicidesBASF Investing $270 Million To Expand U.S. Herbicide Production
June 11, 2014
BASF has invested more than $270 million to expand herbicide production capacities in the U.S., including more than 20 new products to be launched over next two years. Read More

Latest News

HerbicidesWillowood To Market Glufosinate
July 28, 2014
Willowood USA recently announced that Federal EPA has approved its technical registration for glufosinate. Read More
InsecticidesHow To Scout For Corn Earworms In Corn
July 28, 2014
In her weekly report, University of Missouri Agronomy Specialist Jill Scheidt discusses what to look for when scouting for corn earworm. Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Pioneer, Weyerhaeuser Enter Technology License A…
July 28, 2014
The agreement brings together agricultural and forestry know-how to sustainably improve crop productivity for corn growers around the world. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Launches Global iPad App
July 28, 2014
The free AGCO Global iPad App can be downloaded from the Apple iTunes Store and features the full family of RoGator self-propelled sprayers and TerraGator high-floatation spreaders. Read More
Eric SfiligojYuma Centennial Ag Supply Earns 2014 National Environme…
July 28, 2014
Colorado-based ag retailer receives top trophy in 24th annual DuPont Crop Protection/CropLife ceremony. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Forms Alliance With Wildlife Managment, Seed O…
July 25, 2014
The strategic alliance will provide Tecomate with key wildlife products, processing facilities, distribution centers and sales through Pinnacle’s ever-growing retail network. Read More
ManagementFranken Presses White House On RFS Support
July 25, 2014
Al Franken and a group of Senate democrats recently met with senior White House official John Podesta to urge the administration to change its position on an EPA proposal. Read More
ManagementASA, FarmLink To Launch ‘Operation Benchmark̵…
July 25, 2014
The American Soybean Association (ASA) and FarmLink are teaming up to help farmers close the $11 billion gap between what they harvested in 2013 and what they could harvest annually. Read More
StewardshipNorthey: Farmers Commit $1.4 Million to Try New Water Q…
July 25, 2014
The practices that are eligible for funding include cover crops, no-till or strip till and using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learn How Changing World Will Impact Iowa
July 24, 2014
Technology and understanding global consumer demand for Iowa farm products brought hundreds of farmers and agribusiness leaders to Ames recently for the annual Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Economic Summit. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue: Late Season Weeds May Require Manual Removal
July 24, 2014
Hand-rouging and pulling late season weeds by hand may be the best way to remove them, more so than using a herbicide, a Purdue Extension weed scientist says. Read More
Soybean Field
InsecticidesTransform WG, Closer SC Insecticides Receive R&D 10…
July 23, 2014
Dow AgroSciences has received the award from R&D Magazine for Transform WG insecticide and Closer SC insecticide with Isoclast active. Read More
EquipmentKinze, Raven Team Up On 4900 Planter Monitor
July 23, 2014
Kinze Manufacturing announces a partnership with Raven Industries to develop a standalone monitor solution for the Kinze 4900 series planter. With this new Read More
LegislationNew Farm Bill Continues To Confuse As Growers Await USD…
July 23, 2014
The new five-year Farm Bill eliminates many of the direct payments previously payed to growers and could benefit from USDA clarification, reports a Toledo Blade columnist. Read More
EquipmentPrecisionAg.com Relaunches With Responsive Design For M…
July 22, 2014
PrecisionAg, the worldwide leader in precision agriculture information and analysis, announces the launch of its completely redesigned website, PrecisionAg.com. Read More
FungicidesEPA OKs Two Willowood Fungicides
July 21, 2014
The EPA has approved Willowood Azoxy 2SC and Willowood AzoxyProp Xtra. two widely used broad spectrum, preventative fungicides with systemic and curative properties. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learning Fast As UAVs Take Off
July 17, 2014
Farmers and others interested in how UAVs can be used in agricultural applications were able to learn more about the technology during the recent Precision Aerial Ag Show. Read More
CropLife 100Bobby Knight, Richard Petty To Highlight Ag PhD Field D…
July 17, 2014
Attendees at the July 24 Ag PhD Field Day at Hefty Farms will learn about the latest agricultural technologies, and get a chance to meet legendary sports figures Bobby Knight and Richard Petty. Read More