A South African farmer converted his quadbike into a crop sprayer and saved himself a lot of money.
When Mr Morné Erwee, a maize farmer from the farm Tower Hill outside Grahamstown, returned home from holiday in December to the sight of weeds growing rampantly in among his maize, he knew that he had to make a plan and quickly. “We’d had plenty of rain over the past summer and when we returned after a couple of days away, the thorn apples (Datura species) had taken over the maize lands.
Previously he’d had to spray his 30 hectares of dryland maize two to three times during the growing season, first with a tractor and then later with knapsack sprayers. “This was a labour intensive exercise that could take up to two months to complete. It was also not very effective.”
Morné has always been fond of welding and building things, even when he was a little boy. He built a frame using three angle irons and attached it to the front carrier of the quadbike using four bolts. A pipe with three normal spray heads spaced 50cm apart was mounted about 80cm in front of the quadbike on the highest part of the frame.
He built another angle iron rack and attached it to the rear carrier using four bolts. He then attached an old 60-litre spray tank to this rack with a steel locking mechanism to hold the tank upright. The weed killer is pumped to the spray heads by means of a 12V inline caravan shower pump powered by a car battery. The shower pump and the battery were mounted onto the carrier on either side of the tank.
Morné now sprays his lands within four days, without any assistance. He can spray a 1200m-long maize row with 60 litres of weed killer. “I have a 900-litre tank in which I mix the weed killer to the correct strength and then transport that to the lands.”
He says that the major benefit is that he now achieves a 90% coverage whereas the tractor only managed 50%. The weed killer is also sprayed in-between the maize, which is planted 90cm apart.
LIGHT ON FUEL
He also saves on fuel. Only 10 litres of petrol are needed to spray 30 ha of maize.
The frame can also be adapted to spray other crops such as cabbage. It is ideal for vegetable farmers or small-scale maize farmers, says Morné.
“If you change the tank, you can also use the sprayer to apply nitrogen and foliar fertiliser. The quadbike is also well utilised, unlike many other implements that can stand idle. I use it nearly every day, which makes it very cost-effective.”
He plans to attach hinges to the frame so that its height can be adjusted.
It cost about R5000 (K3 700) to convert the quadbike into an effective crop sprayer.