The center rack on a sprayer boom is where manufacturers often stand out. Each has a specific design and way of balancing so the boom will compensate for dips in the field and stay relatively level.
Chad Biegler, product manager with Raven Industry’s Applied Technology Division, says his company is improving the agricultural industry’s sprayer boom technology with its AutoBoom XRT, the latest generation of its boom-leveling portfolio, released in November. The product “plugs and plays” into newer sprayers built around the industry standard ISOBUS and is designed to keep the boom height level.
“When I’m killing my weeds, when I’m applying fertilizer, I’m doing it at the right level [with XRT],” Biegler says, adding that keeping the boom level also keeps the labeled droplet size consistent.
“Small droplets have the advantage of more ‘bullets’ coming out of the spray tip but may be prone to drift or evaporation. Large droplets are less likely to drift or go off-target but may roll off the leaf,” he says.
Previous AutoBoom technology relied on ultrasonic sensors to detect the distance from the crop and then automatically readjust boom level. But Biegler says Raven’s new model uses radar sensors attached at both ends of the boom instead. Radar sends out a signal and receives it back — capturing and filtering everything from the distance from the ground to the distance from the canopy.
Ultrasonic, on the other hand, registers one distance. It doesn’t have the ability to distinguish between the canopy and other items the signal could come in contact with, such as herbicide drift.
“It gives us a lot closer area that we can work with, and it gives a higher reaction time as well,” Biegler says. “This is the first implement in the agricultural space using that type of technology for improving the leveling system.”
XRT comes to customers as a bundle of nodes, cables, brackets and sensors. Dampers are an optional add-on, made to adjust the stiffness of the chassis as it moves across features such as ditches or waterways.
“These dampers allow the chassis to stiffen during those events, but it’s variable as well. So, it might not necessarily be just a 100% or 0%; we just want to control the level of stiffness to keep our boom height level,” Biegler says.
The dampers are required prior to the install of XRT on some machines to bring them up to minimum performance requirements. Since every manufacturer’s center rack differs slightly, Biegler says Raven has tuned XRT to function well on various specifications.
Additionally, XRT comes with an inertial sensor for the center of the chassis.
“If I really turn my boom based on going through a ditch or waterway, I know that my boom is going to experience something where it’s disconnected. It’s a secondary rotation point,” Biegler says, adding that with the inertial sensor, “I’m understanding prior to it happening, rather than just by ultrasonic sensors looking down. I understand five seconds, 15 seconds in front of it.”
Understanding the roll of the machine independent of the boom allows the machine to plan ahead, and not over- or underreact during an event.
The current slate of available kits are made for the Case IH Patriot 3XX0/44X0, Case IH Trident 5550 and Agco’s RoGator C.