Amazone's ZG-TS revolutionises swede business

New trailed spreader takes over high-output fertiliser application for Tayside grower


When you have a somewhat massive pile of fertiliser sat in the shed and a lot of swedes to apply it to, some spreading tasks can seem daunting. However, for Britain’s biggest swede growers, Stewarts of Tayside, who farm around 1400 ha of cereals, swedes, vining peas, soft fruit such as strawberries and raspberries, as well as having potato land let out on contract, it means that there never is a quiet moment anyway at Tofthill, Glencarse near Perth.

‘We grow swedes across the whole of Britain starting down south and then working our way up north into Scotland. The market for us is varied; supermarkets, food processors, baby food, restaurants, etc., etc., and we like to look after the crop from start to finish - a 7 day a week operation of growing it, lifting it, packing it, hauling it and selling it,’ explains Liam Stewart, farm manager at Stewarts of Tayside Ltd. ‘For swedes, it is imperative that they get off to the best of starts hence the need for big rates of NPK in the seedbed. We were using two mounted machines working on 16 to 18m tramlines and, because of the rates that we need to put on, we were only travelling at around 8-10 km/h.’

Up in Scotland, the operation is spread over a 65 mile radius of the Tofthill base and so this year, to improve output, saw the purchase of an Amazone ZG-TS 8200 Hydro trailed spreader. When out spreading, the new ZG-TS is backed up by a lorry tractor unit and two articulated lorry trailers hauling fertiliser out of a central store with a forklift at either end for loading and filling. ‘We use three different analyses of blended NPKs, specially formulated to suit the sites on which we are spreading, these being applied at high rates direct onto ploughing - with the rates used also being dependent on soil type. This is then incorporated into the seedbed by the bedforming operation,’ Mr. Stewart goes on to say.

As a crop, swedes are not for the faint-hearted as the ban on Chlorfenvinphos has meant the removal of all chemical protection against cabbage root fly and so the crop is grown under insect-proof netting meaning substantial investment and, with a lifespan of around 10 years for the fleece, the degree of investment is not insignificant. The swedes are then established using either a mixture of conventional ridging, destoning and bedforming or, more recently, a Moate Tillerstar has been introduced to create the beds in one pass. They are then drilled using precision planters. ‘Because we are using an RTK guidance system we can spread at any width, and so we looked at the ZG-TS because it supposedly handled the sort of application rates that we need and it has not fallen short.’

The beauty of the Amazone TS spreading system is its ability to be able to handle such large throughputs. The combination of the depth of the spreading vanes as well as the agitation system and aperture shape and size means that it can handle up to nearly 11 kg/sec making 600 kg/ha at 36m and 20 km/h perfectly possible. The AutoTS headland spread system gets the most out of the yield around the hedge bottoms with its sharpness of cut-off against the boundary. The TS range consists of mounted models from 1700 litres through to 4200 litres and trailed machines from 5500 to 8200 litres; spread rate and spread pattern
control is via an in-cab ISOBUS terminal.

At Stewarts of Tayside, a second TS spreader, a mounted Amazone ZA-TS 4200 Profis Hydro looks after the cereals operation, spreading across a split of winter wheat, spring barley and winter barley. ‘The bonus is that with the ZG-TS we are now travelling at 12-14 km/h and spreading 24m with the one 8200 litre machine doing the job of two. We do about 100 tonnes a day and now, having spread in excess of 800 tonnes with it, I have to say that it has revolutionised our business,’ concludes Mr. Stewart.