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What to consider when choosing a spreader Pikrite Spreader at Weaver Family Farm in Hershey, PA

Tags :  field  |  manure  |  spreader  | 


What to consider when choosing a spreader Pikrite Spreader at Weaver Family Farm in Hershey, PA

The video that you're going to see here while I'm talking is from Weaver Family Farms here in Hershey, Pennsylvania. They recently picked up a new Pikrite Spreader from us, a really impressive large machine. We're going to talk a little bit here today about spreaders. If you're shopping for one, some of the things that you might want to look at to make sure you're buying the right machine for your farm. The most important consideration if you're buying a spreader is the way that it lays the material down on the ground. You're going to look for a nice even discharge of the material being thrown out the back of the spreader, right? If you're going out as throwing out clumps, for example, you can overapply in certain areas, you can kill the crop that's trying to come up underneath of it.

And so, what you really want is that nice, even fine spread pattern. That has led the industry towards this style of vertical beater spreader, where it makes sense, because this usually is going to give you one of the most even spread patterns. Now, you're going to find side discharge models that have really kind of fallen out of favor now, many companies have discontinued those, or spreaders that are going to have a horizontal beater in the back in less expensive, smaller versions, where you can't accommodate these large vertical beaters in the back of the spreader. So, ultimately we're going to look for spreaders that are going to have a nice even distribution. Now, there's ways that you can play with that. You're going to look for the way that baffling and stuff is done at the back of the spreader in order to feed that material into the beaters. 

You're going to want to look at the beaters themselves and your ability to maybe go through and maintain the wear parts that are on here, to make sure that you're able to grab a hold of that material and throw it out the back and keep these knives and stuff on the back here in the kind of condition that they can be to do the best job. So, you want to make sure that these parts are replaceable, readily available and something that you might even be able to configure a little bit, depending on the type of material that you're feeding through the spreader. One feature here that you'll find at the back of this spreader that's common on a lot of them, but sometimes can be optional equipment, is an end gate. Now, the end gate here is going to allow you to close off the back of the spreader, so that while you fill it up and while you're transporting through the fields, you don't have things falling out the back, right?

This gate here is going to keep the material from falling out the rear. Once you're ready to start spreading, this gate is going to open up hydraulically and then you're going to have one of two different kinds of systems that are going to move the material back here into the beaters. Now, there's two different systems here to move the material to the back of the spreader and some pros and cons for the two different styles that we sell. This version right here is done hydraulically. So, it has a hydraulic cylinder that moves both the floor section and the end plate here at the end of the spreader and pushes them towards the rear with the beaters. The good things about that system is, one, it's very powerful because you're doing it with a hydraulic cylinder and mechanically, it's rather simple. There's not a whole lot to go wrong, but you do want to watch when something does go wrong. 

A complex multi-stage hydraulic cylinder is not the least expensive thing to fix. Now, the other version is going to be a style of webbing that's going to run across the floor of the spreader, and you're going to use a PTO driven gear drive system in order to run that webbing that pulls the material from the front towards the back. Now, as that material gets to the back on that style with the webbing, it does, say, tend to not come back in one large, tall chunk that perfectly runs into the beaters, so you can end up with some inconsistency in your spread with that webbing-type system, because it's not bringing material back in a flat wall to feed into the beaters. So, maybe a little bit less consistent spread with the webbing and also mechanically a lot more complicated, right? You've got moving parts and gears and webbing dragging through dirty corrosive, rough gritty material. 

And so, it can lead to more service issues than what a hydraulic cylinder will. It'd be our opinion here at Messick's that the most important thing that you should look for in a spreader is the undercarriage. The most important bits are down here. The ones that you don't usually see when you're just walking around a unit. We specifically choose to deal with certain companies because their undercarriages are overbuilt, compared to some of the competitors. When you look at your load capacities for a spreader, they're rated in bushels or tons, you'll find that it's going to be very easy to overload your spreader. There's no scales on most of these units telling you exactly how much weight you're carrying around, so it's very common for someone just to load and load and load and heat that spreader up to make as few trips back and forth to the barn as possible. And they end up very frequently being overloaded and ruining the undercarriage in some fashion. 

So, here at Meesick's, we choose to deal with specific brands that we've had good luck from them as far as their undercarriage construction goes. There are also brands that are domestically made and in many cases, very close to our store. Pik right here is made less than an hour away from us, so we tend to get really good part support from locally made companies. Now, most spreaders at this point are made in the U.S. There's not really imported brands for these and the parts support from all of them more than likely is very comparable. But it's the construction down here underneath the spreader that we really pay a lot of attention to. So, if you're shopping for a spreader, hopefully some of those details clue you in to a couple of things to look for to make sure that you are choosing the right model for your proper application

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