Truck in, Spread out

By: Andrew Hobbs

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Trucks were the answer for one contractor spreading fertilisers across South Australia. Andrew Hobbs finds out more


Volvo in wheat
Crossling Contractors is the first to affix a spreader to a Volvo FMX 6x6


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Fertiliser spreading season is well and truly underway for Crossling Contractors, based out of Naracoorte in South Australia, after January signalled the start of a solid six months of work for the family-run business.

John Crossling and brother Damian run a fleet of four main spreaders and four B-double trucks to service farms within a 40–50km radius of the town, some of which have been customers of the company for the past 40 years.

The fleet includes two truck-mounted spreaders, one on a Mercedes-Benz Zetros, another on a 6x6 Volvo FMX – both of which are the first vehicles of their kind to be turned into spreaders.

We wrote about Crossling's Zetros-mounted spreader in 2018 - check out the story here

"Truck-mounted spreaders are just a lot more versatile for us… they are obviously quicker and easier to manoeuvre," John says.

To help add to this, Crossling recently worked with Moe-based Air CTI to get a central tyre inflation (CTI) system installed on the Volvo FMX, allowing the spreader operator to increase and decrease the tyre pressure of the vehicle while on the go.

"We run high pressures when we are running on the road with a load onboard, and when we get to the paddock we can put the pressures right down," Crossling says.

"We can be in a sandy paddock one job, and 15km away it can get quite wet and boggy."

The design of the spreader bins has been the domain of Ballarat-based Southern Spreaders for more than 12 years, Crossling says, adding that their design team has always been up to whatever challenge they were set.

This was proven when Crossling asked for a machine that would avoid tracking fertiliser into the chassis of the truck – keeping it from falling out of the bottom of the bin and meaning the only way fertiliser could get out was through the spinners.

The fully enclosed floor machine they designed is now commercially available as the Southern Spreaders 800 Chain spreader.


Crossling's spreader bins are designed by Ballarat-based Southern Spreaders


Southern Spreaders also supplies the TopCon range of GPS-based computerised spreader systems, with Crossling using the X30 and X35 units to improve its spreading efficiency.

Crossling takes its policy of never tipping any fertilisers on the ground before spreading them very seriously, instead using its B-double fleet to supply the fertiliser direct to the spreaders, from the Port of Portland in Victoria to wherever they are in the region.

"We work on a ‘just in time’ delivery process where the B-double rolls up pretty much just as the spreaders need the fertiliser, so we will generally have three B-doubles rolling up to the farm or the paddock to supply those spreaders at different times throughout the day," Crossling says.

"Then we will just load the spreaders directly out the back of the truck using a big belt elevator. The only time the fertiliser hits the ground is when it is on the ground in the paddock and in the right place."

This practice also means that bad weather won’t prevent spreading activity from taking place as the fertilisers are stored within the B-doubles, covered with tarpaulins, until they are distributed in the paddock.

For the year ahead, Crossling says he will look at installing the computer telephony integration system on another couple of spreaders within the fleet, but says he won’t be ordering another truck in 2019.

"I have had five in five years now, so I am going to have 2019 off from buying a spreader, but in 2020 there could well be another one coming up," he says.

"[2019] should be a reasonable fertiliser year – we have got good lamb prices, good wool prices and good grain prices – beef has come back a bit but it is still going OK. Things are looking reasonably positive here in the south-east."


John Crossling and Colin Crossling from Crossling Contractors in front of one of the company’s truck-mounted spreaders


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