Mud can be a huge problem on farm equipment.
In spraying season, mud can be especially problematic: it damages sprayer nozzles, contributes to corrosion and rust and requires a lot of downtime for washing equipment. Mud can also be dangerous to your crop — pathogens like clubroot can spread from field to field in a glob of mud.
To get sprayers into wet fields, you need wider tires. Those wider tires kick up a lot more mud even at slow speeds.
This wouldn’t be so bad if the sprayer fenders weren’t made only for the slim (dry weather) size of tire, allowing a gap where mud flies free and can collect.
You can buy wide fenders, but they’re expensive, and it takes a long time to install them and remove them.
Where an average farmer sees only a problem an enterprising farmer sees an opportunity. One of those enterprising farmers is Eric Gray of Indian Head, Saskatchewan. Eric manufactures the FenderXTender, a bolt-on addition to sprayer fenders that covers the wider tires and stops the mud from being kicked up. They are made of durable polyurethane they do not rust, and can be stacked easily when they aren’t needed. Gray has also made sure they install easily; you won’t need to modify the fenders provided by your manufacturer.
They not only install easily, but uninstall just as easily when you switch back to narrow sprayer tires. This means you don’t need to worry about the wide fenders knocking the tops off of your growing crop.
Gray came up with the idea after a few particularly frustrating days spraying his fields. With the heavy rain they had been experiencing, maintenance and cleaning was taking up more and more of his time. “It was getting to the point where I had to clean off my sprayer with a shovel every day,” he says. He searched the Internet looking for a wide fender solution but could not find one. Realizing that no convenient solution existed Gray decided to create his own. “I called my Dad about this idea I had and he said, ‘Yeah, I think you’re on to something.’”
Working with his father, Gray came up with a prototype FenderXTender close to the current design. After testing it on his field they were both impressed by how well it worked and how much it shortened cleaning time and decided to take it to market.
They sold the first few units to neighbours and, after a year testing prototypes, officially launched it at the Farm Progress Show in Regina, winning Runner-Up in the New Invention Category. They have been taking it around to farm shows all winter and now dealers have started to come to them asking to carry it.
Gray is proud of how local the company is: the FenderXTender’s plastic parts are made in Saskatoon, the metal pieces are laser cut in Regina, and a welder in Indian Head assembles the final units. It’s also a family company: “My Mom is a retired school teacher and I recruited her to help out at the farm shows and my Dad comes to help out with the engineering. And I have an aunt that is the chief financial officer for the company.”
You can catch Gray at major agriculture technology exhibitions this year. With wet weather likely to be common for the foreseeable future, and clubroot a growing concern across the Prairies, Gray and his FenderXTender are likely to find a lot of business for years to come.