Self-propelled sprayers used to be a luxury only a few farmers could afford, but they are an essential piece of farm equipment today. One of the nation’s largest manufacturers of sprayers is located right here in Indiana. Brent Stiers, with Apache Sprayers, says many farmers today find having their own spray rig is a necessity, “As the adoption of no-till farming increases, the adoption of a sprayer becomes a necessary part of a grower’s operation. As farms have grown larger, growers have found the big rigs are needed to deliver the products their crops need in a timely manner.” He added, for growers with larger operations, using the services of a custom applicator is just not convenient. In addition, the increasing use of precision agriculture technologies makes the sprayer an integral part of a cropping system, “Precision ag continues to evolve and develop and become more important to all farmers, and they are telling us they want this technology to be part of their spray units.”
With the sharp drop in corn prices, the price tag of a sprayer is becoming an issue. Stiers is optimistic the lower price of corn will focus more attention on the importance of maximizing yields, which a sprayer can help achieve, “I think it is all about the efficiency of the planted acre. The North American farmer is the most efficient farmer in the world and continues to increase his efficiency and production every year.” This is being made possible by new products that are delivered to crops with a liquid sprayer.
Another issue fostering the use of sprayers is the increasing concern and regulation of chemical drift. With precision farming technology and the use of the spray nozzle technology, today’s sprayers are extremely accurate in placing chemicals only where desired. Apache stresses grower and dealer education and training. They offer a state of the art educational complex and test track at their Mooresville facility in Morgan County.
A bit of sticker shock is coming in 2016 as federally mandated Tier 4 engine requirements come on-line. These will increase the cost of sprayers by as much as $20,000. “We have delayed the implementation of our final Tier 4 platforms as long as possible,” Stiers told HAT. Apache will have a full line of Tier 4 products beginning with the 2016 model year. Stiers says, even with a higher price tag, he sees the demand for sprayers to continue to grow, “A value proposition is at the core of what we want to offer to our customers. We want to offer the most utility for the lowest price.”