IACMI Member, John Deere, is employing a new material to make its sprayer booms – carbon fiber. Read more below..
Photo: John Deere 120- and 132-foot carbon fiber booms are lightweight to minimize soil compaction. Orders will be taken in June, and the new machines will be ready this fall.
Farmers looking to cover more ground more efficiently will soon have the option of using a wide-boom sprayer that doesn’t come with added weight.
John Deere is employing a new material to make its sprayer booms. Carbon fiber is a man-made material that’s strong but also light weight. John Deere partnered with a company in Argentina, KingAgro, to make the boom. It was originally intended for John Deere’s South American market, but there was enough interest to introduce it in North America.
The company will start taking orders for the sprayers in June. They’ll be made at the plant in Ankeny, Iowa, and will be ready to roll this fall.
Carbon fiber is used in the aerospace industry and for making race car bodies and bicycle frames – areas where weight is a big factor. It also proves a good alternative material for farm equipment.
“Customers continue to demand lighter and more productive sprayers. In order to get more productive, that usually means wider,” said Doug Felter, product marketing manager for application equipment at John Deere.
Steel was reaching its limits with a boom that spans 120 feet, he said. So to stretch the boom width without adding weight, the company started to look for materials that are lighter than steel.
To make carbon fiber, fabric of woven carbon filaments are combined with a plastic resin and molded into different forms.
A 120-foot boom made out of carbon fiber is 1,100 pounds lighter than the steel model. By slimming down the materials, John Deere is also able to offer a 132-foot boom. The extra 12 feet is where farmers get that productivity boost. With a wider boom, it takes fewer passes to cover a field.
The lighter boom helps curb issues with soil compaction. It also distributes weight more evenly on the machine by moving some of the weight off of the rear.
The new booms are designed to John Deere’s Series 4 sprayers, which came out in 2014 and 2015. Steel boom options will still be available. A carbon fiber boom will cost about $16,000 more than steel, at list price.
Felter noted some of the other benefits of carbon fiber. The material won’t corrode from harsh fertilizers and water. It’s also UV resistant, helping it stand up to the sun’s rays.
Many producers have questions about how to repair the boom if they hit something with their sprayer, Felter said, adding that the process for fixing carbon fiber is easier than welding steel. There is a carbon fiber repair kit for reinforcing the damaged area. Felter said it will keep owners from having to replace major pieces of the equipment.
He said he thinks carbon fiber’s place in the ag industry will grow as machines get bigger and weight becoming a bigger concern. He’s hearing good things from farmers.
“They’ve been really intrigued by the material,” he said.