As I look out my office window at one of the worst March storms I’ve ever seen, it’s hard to believe that equipment will likely be running through prairie fields in only two months. All anyone can do on days like this is daydream about those warm spring and summer afternoons. So when a press release describing an event that took place in the balmy Australian climate came across my desk this morning, it was a pleasant distraction from the raging blizzard outside.
That release was from Dutch sprayer manufacturer Agrifac, which claimed one of its machines along with a small crew set a new record for the number of acres sprayed by a single machine in 24 hours. It did that last week on a grain farm in Western Australia, a few hours drive from the city of Perth.
The crew used an Agrifac Condor Endurance model equipped with a 48-metre (160-foot) boom to cover a total of 6,515.86 acres. That’s an average of 271 acres per hour. Although in its best hour of work, it managed to spray 372.4 acres, which was apparently enough to claim a second world record.
The company didn’t say what official registry, if any, confirmed this as a record. Notably, they didn’t say it was a Guinness World Record—not that Guinness is the only group that keeps track of odd achievements like this. But to verify the work they did, Agrifac did hire a local justice of the peace to go out to the farm to be an impartial witness.
The Agrifac crew said they sprayed 4.1 gallons per acre using a medium droplet size and did all this work in 15 separate fields. A map showing the coverage area reveals all the fields—or paddocks as they say in Australia—were adjacent to each other and clearly typical of the large-scale fields common in that region. The crew revealed it wasn’t all smooth going, though, and the fields had a variety of shapes, not just nice, square and easy to navigate. They also had to work around the typical tree and utility pole hazards all of us on this continent do.
As you’d expect within any marathon adventure like this, fatigue played a role in the effort as well. “I did drive into the wrong field in the middle of the night, which cost us a little time” claimed the driver in the official press release.
In the process of setting the record, the Condor made a total of 13 refill stops. Each lasted a mere 11 minutes. That’s impressive work on the part of the nurse crew by any standard, who delivered 27,875 gallons for the Condor to spray out. Average field application speed was 15.5 miles per hour.
After this marathon effort, I’m sure the crew spent a couple of days getting their energy back and were too tired to do much of anything, but imagine how efficient your farming operation would be if it was possible to cover that many acres in that short a time every season—with just one machine!