McEwen removed front wheel, forks, and handlebars from a 10-speed bicycle and mounted the frame on the frame of a Deere 494 planter which he bolted onto the toolbar of his Buffalo 4630 4-row cultivator. The bicycle's main drive chain turns the bicycle's rear wheel shaft which chain drives a countershaft controlling a pair of planter fertilizer boxes mounted at rear of the cultivator. McEwen remounted the bicycle gear shift on a copper pipe that extends toward the tractor. He uses the bicycle's gear shift to change sprocket gear ratios to control fertilizer rates.
"It saves me money by letting me apply fertilizer according to soil type rather than applying one rate over the entire field, and it cost less than $500 to build," says McEwen. "I apply most of my phosphate during planting and potash during first cultivation. Soil test grid maps showed I wasn't applying enough potash on sandy soils and too much on heavy soils. My bicycle applicator lets me apply higher rates of fertilizer where needed. I tape a grid map of the field to the tractor fender. To know where I am in the field in relation to the map I numbered the electric poles on one side of my field, with each pole representing a number on the map. When I want to increase fertilizer rates I simply reach back and nudge the bicycle gears up a gear or two without having to take my eyes off the row."
McEwen cut the right pedal off the bicycle, leaving the two drive sprockets intact. He removed the left pedal and mounted a sprocket in its place. Two countershafts were necessary - one on front of the toolbar and one under the tractor axle which acts as a hinge for the small wheel assembly as well as being part of the powertrain. A small rubber tire runs inside the rim of the tractor's real wheel. A spring on the 3-pt. hitch pulls the small rubber wheel against the rim. Raising the 3-pt. hitch and cultivator disengages the fertilizer drive. He dismantled the rear bicycle wheel and discarded the rim and spokes, then welded a sprocket to the original axle. A chain leads from the sprocket to the planter's original countershaft. All of the original speed options are still available as well as the 10-speed on-the-go speed changes. All bicycle sprocket ratios were calculated for exact fertilizer ratios.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ron McEwen, Box 204, 569 Thames St., Wyoming, Ontario, Canada NON 1TO (ph 519 845-3901).
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