Had Elvis ever faced the challenge of getting a crop sprayed, he would have undoubtedly crooned a tune to tenders. More convenience and safety were at the top of John and Bob Wieland’s and Tom Bauman’s desires when they built their rig four years ago. The fact that this tender has also increased spraying efficiency has kept them singing its praises.
“Having everything at the field limits downtime and spreads labor and spray equipment over more acres,” said Bauman. “Wet years and narrow spray windows have taught us how critical it is to operate efficiently. We’ve more than paid for our investment.”
The need to juggle more spray applications and keep weeds controlled at the right stage to ward off herbicide-resistant weeds intensifies the need to be timely. The tender is also occasionally used to shuttle 28% nitrogen to the field during side-dressing season.
The Wieland brothers and Bauman farm together near Laura, Illinois. They also operate R & N Trucking, a commercial trucking firm — so they know a thing or two about trucks and trailers.
They started the tender project by purchasing an aluminum commercial tanker trailer on the used market. “It was an ugly yellow and we repainted it,” Bauman said. The inside of the tank had already been cleaned of any residue from its previous life at a fertilizer plant.
“If I was doing it again, I would go for stainless steel tanks that are baffled,” he said. “We’re not hauling very far, but I’d make that upgrade to eliminate some sloshing.” Prior to building the tender, they had strapped mini-bulk tanks to a flatbed trailer. Bauman said it worked, but the new way is safer.
FILL IT UP
They enlisted the help of a nearby engineering shop to help design the remodel. The trailer undercarriage was reinforced and a platform built at the rear of the tanker to hold chemical mini-bulks with a caged area beneath to corral emptied jugs. The bulk herbicide and carrier containers have their metered, battery-powered pumps that allow for on-site mixing.
A tank filled with 50 gallons of fresh water serves as a clean-up station for washing inductors, hands or whatever else needs a quick clean up.
The tanker will hold 7,000 gallons, although they can’t haul that much legally. With a legal load of about 5,000 gallons, the tender affords five sprayer fills from each tanker load. It takes about 7 minutes to fill the 1,000-gallon sprayer thanks to a 13 horsepower, 3-inch pump.
A 30-foot hose allows the truck to pull off alongside the road and reaches across road ditches. “They do make a nice automatic reel, but they are expensive,” Bauman said. The total renovation — new lighting, tires, rims, tanks, pumps and other miscellaneous improvements brought the total investment close to $50,000. “Sounds like a lot, but I don’t see us ever getting rid of it,” he said.
In fact, they are so enamored with the spray tender that they are expanding on the concept this winter by building a planting tender from a single axle flatbed trailer. “I want a one-stop-shop where I can carry my four-box seed tender and 1,000-gallon tank of starter behind the semi,” Bauman said. He prefers to keep the tenders separate so planters and sprayers can work at the same time in different areas of the farm.