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Home-Built Controller Varies Fertilizer Rates
Indiana farmer Ben Taylor built a variable-rate controller for his dry fertilizer applicator that he says works like a million bucks. Taylor made the controller using about $100 in parts and his own imagination. The device is mounted on a 5-ton dry spreader that he bought at an online auction for $1,050. The project qualified for an EQIP grant from his local conservation office, so he was able to use that money to offset part of the development cost.

    “My setup applies variable rate dry fertilizer for way less per acre than what I’d pay for custom application,” Taylor says. “It’s more than paid for itself on the 275 acres that I spread this year on our farm.”

    Taylor’s device uses a remote control in his tractor to adjust the flow rate on the spreader as he travels across a field. The key component is a linear actuator that’s commonly used to move solar panels so they rotate to capture the best angle of sunshine. Taylor mounted the controller to the sliding door on the back of the spreader, supported by a bracket he welded to the back of the tank. The controller is powered by a motorcycle battery that sits inside an old 30-cal. ammo can that he welded to the rear of the spreader.    

    Taylor developed his own field density maps based on grid sampling and says they’re accurate to within a few pounds an acre. As he drives across a field, he uses a four-position switch to adjust the fertilizer flow rate from 75 to 300 lbs. per acre. A visual indicator mounted on the door also tells him what rate is being applied. He uses a green rope to turn the spreader on and a red rope to turn it off.

    “My system isn’t nearly as complex as a hydraulic system that runs on satellite imaging and grids, but it’s definitely close enough for me,” Taylor says.

     “The spreader is old, so I replaced the sprockets, bearings and shafts so it works like a new one. That together with the flow controller gives me a high-tech machine for a minimal investment,” says Taylor. He also uses the spreader in the fall for applying cover crop seed.

    “My wife and I are just in our third year farming so we’re always looking for ways to get the most for our money, and this certainly fits the bill,” says Taylor.

    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ben Taylor, 1240 S. 1150 E., La Grange, Ind. 46761 (ph 260 351-2880; benjamintaylor@embarqmail.com).

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2018 - Volume #42, Issue #4