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
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer Warehouse
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More
CropLife 100United Suppliers, McGregor Co., Five Others To Form Aligned Ag Distributors
January 20, 2015
These companies will continue to operate as independently owned and operated businesses, however, their crop protection divisions will now be formally aligned under the umbrella of Aligned Ag Distributors. Read More
CropLife 100Bozeman Named SEEDWAY Chief Operating Officer
January 16, 2015
He succeeds Donald Wertman, who will retire at the end of August 2015 after 40 years with the GROWMARK subsidiary. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis’ Craig Bair Honored For Safety Contributions To Ag Aviation
January 14, 2015
The William O. Marsh Safety Award recognizes significant achievements in safety, safety education or an outstanding operational safety program. Read More
Latest News
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: IFCA’s Jean Payne on Illinois wat…
January 30, 2015
Editor Eric Sfiligoj shares insight from the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association conference including a chat with IFCA President Jean Read More
ManagementOABA Conference Set To Highlight Trends, Technology And…
January 29, 2015
The third annual Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) Industry Conference is set to take place February 4-5. Read More
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute President Jahn Testifies Befor…
January 28, 2015
The committee hearing, "Freight Rail Transportation: Enhancing Safety, Efficiency, and Commerce," looked at challenges facing our nation's freight rail network created by higher demand, rules and regulations and infrastructure needs. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue University Acquires Technology For Herbicide Mol…
January 28, 2015
Protea's LAESI DP-1000 Instrument System will be used in Purdue's College of Agriculture, the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, for the molecular imaging of herbicide active ingredients and other related compounds to optimize herbicide applications and improve weed management.  Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Hires New Crop Peformance Marketing Manager
January 27, 2015
As Marketing Manager for the Crop Performance division, Usman Khalid will work out of H.J. Baker’s global headquarters in Westport, CT, and will drive new initiatives for the division. Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
Exclusive state-of-the art Stueve Construction designed “Vista View” Elevated Control Room.
Eric Sfiligoj2015 Agricultural Market Read: Mixed
January 26, 2015
The agricultural market could look radically different this year, profit-wise, depending upon which segment you do business in. Read More
Edward Chell Biosafe
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Names Ed Chell California Territory Man…
January 26, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the recent addition of Ed Chell as California Territory Manager for the agrichemical division, supporting the crop protection, water treatment and food safety business segments. Read More
InsecticidesBayer CropScience Introduces Sivanto Insecticide
January 26, 2015
Sivanto precisely targets key damaging pests at multiple insect life stages to prevent damage to plants and help minimize the spread of diseases from insect carriers. Read More
ManagementRetail Collaboration, Communicating Agriculture’s Good …
January 23, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the recent creation of Aligned Ag Distributors, and the US Farmers and Ranchers Read More
FertilizerOSU Expert: Toledo Water Crisis A Turning Point For Ohi…
January 23, 2015
The August 2014 water crisis in Toledo, OH, impacted Ohioans’ views of Lake Erie algae problems by increasing the attribution of blame of algae growth on agriculture. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Launching TIGER XP
January 22, 2015
Tiger-Sul introduces this next generation sulphur-bentonite product with a proprietary activator – ensuring farmers have a well-balanced nutrient replacement program. Read More
Crop InputsH.J. Baker Expands China Sales Force
January 21, 2015
Global Agricultural firm H.J. Baker announced that sales veteran Shi Dongshen has joined their Shanghai office in China. This newest hire follows the recent opening of their Lianyungang Sulphur Bentonite Plant. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer …
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
Matt Hopkins5 Bold Predictions For Ag Retail In 2015
January 21, 2015
This past year was filled with ups and downs for the nation’s top ag retailers, but what will 2015 have in store? Read More
SoftwareDeere Launches App Center
January 20, 2015
The John Deere App Center provides users the ability to search and find apps most useful to their business or operations. Read More
Crop InputsNew Syngenta Herbicide Approved In Soybeans, Sunflowers
January 20, 2015
Syngenta will sell BroadAxe XC herbicide in 2015 for use on soybeans, sunflowers and dry peas Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More