Mounted, Reviews, Spreader

REVIEW: Kuhn Axis 50.1 H-EMC-W fertiliser spreader

Australian farmers concede artificial intelligence is taking over. This even extends to the simple art of spreading fertiliser, Tom Dickson discovers when he trials the Kuhn Axis 50.1 spreader.

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Watch the video above from the 2014 Elmore field days in which Tom gives you a rundown of the intelligent machine.

About 10 minutes out of Cobden, in western Victoria, I find a thriving agricultural based industry.

The fertiliser supply and spreading company operating under the banner Webber & Chivell services an expanding dairy community. It employs around 60 employees during peak season.

Up until recently the company has used truck mounted and Fastrac spreaders but have now decided to purchase a brand new Kuhn Axis 50.1 H-EMC-W linkage spreader and mounted it up on a new 310hp (231kW) JCB Fastrac 8310.


Kuhn Axis 50.1 H-EMC-W: The machine

Kuhn Axis 50.1 H-EMC-W Fertiliser Spreader

H is for hydraulic. EMC stands for electronic mass flow control and W indicates weigh bars.

The Axis 50.1 spreader is a single bin unit with two delivery outlets. It has a 4,000-litre capacity but this one has an optional extension added to bring it up to more than 5,000 litres. This is because its main use will be spreading urea.

A set of steps on the side makes it quite easy to climb up to see into the bins and monitor the filling process as well. I am pleased to see a full mesh screen is mounted inside the bin to prevent lumps of fertiliser or other foreign matter blocking the outlet chutes.

Kuhn has opted to use a poly cover over a steel frame to act as a lid for the spreader. It is effective and simple to operate by moving the lever action backwards and forwards to expose 100 per cent of the opening.

My only criticism would be that this synthetic material may eventually break down in Australia’s harsh weather conditions.

I did also notice it didn’t form a very good seal around the top of the bin. I don’t have to remind you of the disastrous effect moisture can have on products such as urea and diammonium phosphate (DAP).

Each outlet chute has an agitator which can be seen from inside the bin. The agitators rotate at about 17 rotations per minute to maintain a constant flow of fertiliser. Rotating at such a slow speed ensures the fertiliser is not damaged which would affect it’s even spread.

When the delivery chutes shut the agitators stop turning so no crushing or powdering of the fertiliser occurs.

Underneath the spreader is where all the action takes place. Two sets of spinners, rate controllers and drop point chutes work together simultaneously to ensure perfect delivery and spread pattern.

The chutes deliver the fertiliser to within a millimetre of the spinner to ensure absolute accuracy.


Kuhn Axis 50.1 H-EMC-W: Ease of operation

Kuhn Axis 50.1 Contorl Monitor

Operating the spreader is an extremely easy exercise. Probably the simplest way for me to describe the ease with which I went from novice to expert is the steps required to begin the spreading process.

Step one. Fill the bin with fertiliser. Obviously there is a multitude of different ways to get product into the bin including an auger, bulker bags and out of a hopper, and because the bin has a 2.8m opening most front end loaders can fill directly out of a storage dump without spillage at the sides.

When the Axis 50.1 is lowered the top of the bin is only 149cm off the ground so even the option of throwing bags of fertiliser in off the back of a ute or truck is still an option

Step two.I jump into the cab with Kuhn Technical Support’s Danny Tranter and turn on the two Kuhn CCI 100 control monitors. The CCI 100 is compatible with all ISOBUS machines. An interesting fact is Kuhn is one of the original members of the group of manufacturers that designed the ISOBUS system so they should know how to put together a simple to operate and intuitive system.

Tranter says a single monitor will take care of everything but on this occasion the client want two monitors so one can continually display mapping via GPS and the second can focus on displaying what the spreader is doing, i.e. rate and spread width etc.

“It’s just a convenience thing,” he says.

Where was I. Oh yeah, the monitors are on and ready to go so under instruction from Tranter I push the settings button, then rate, then punch in 120kg, followed by spread width (24m). By the way, this machine will spread between 18 to 50m.

I push the start button on the monitor and begin driving. The machine does the rest. That’s all there is to it.

Fill it, set it then drive it. The mapping screen even shows you where to drive for maximum efficiency.


Kuhn Axis 50.1 H-EMC-W: The technology

Kuhn Axis 50.1 Fertiliser Drop Point Delivery Gauge

Once I am in the process of spreading the Kuhn CCI 100 control monitor and the three main spreading mechanisms work in perfect harmony with each other far more effectively than any human ever could. It all hinges around the hydraulically operated spinners.

As product drops out of the bin on to the spinners it creates a pressure build-up against the hydraulic flow. As the mass of fertiliser increases so too does the pressure.

Sensors within the hydraulic system detect the pressure changes and send the information to the monitor where it converts the information into a kilogram amount.

The control monitor automatically opens and closes the delivery chute to maintain the desired rate and it also can adjust the drop point on to the spinner to change the width off spread. These calculations are repeated every second.

At one stage, while I am going around a tree in the paddock, I begin to overlap an area that has already been spread so the monitor automatically changes the point at which the fertiliser is dropped on to the spinner to reduce the spread width on the right-hand side.

The chute closes a bit and slows the spinner so the spread width narrows on that side while still maintaining the correct application rate.

It’s a bit like shutting down nozzles on a boom spray. Only a computer operated machine could react that quickly and precisely.

Sometimes over-spreading can be just as detrimental on a crop as under-spreading. I decide not to even attempt to get my head around how all this works but just accept the intelligence far greater than mine has the job well and truly in hand.

As an added source of information to the operator weigh bars have been incorporated into the frame so the operator knows exactly how much product is left in the bin at all times.


Final words

Rhys Baxter has been entrusted to operate the new tractor spreader combination in Webber & Chivell’s arsenal of equipment and he reckons its going great so far. He says he gets a much more comfortable ride and has better vision of the field he is working in than when using the truck and all-in-one spreaders.

“It’s probably easier to operate than any of the other spreaders I’ve used and because the computer sets all of the rates and spread patterns automatically I never have to get my hands dirty,” Baxter says.

Just as a point of interest the Kuhn spreader has category three linkage as standard and is capable of spreading up to 500kg per minute, so depending on your speed the application rates are infinite.

The 310hp JCB with weights on the front is more than up to the task of carrying the Axis 50.1 and I think you could get away with a fair bit less if paddock conditions allow.

This is a very clever design and the combination of engineering and technology is truly mind boggling. I compare it to a laptop computer.

Don’t ask yourself how or why it works just accept the fact that it can get the job done faster with more accuracy and more efficiency than if you were in control.

Well worth a look.

Kuhn Axis 50.1 H-EMC-W Hits:

  • Simplicity
  • Fully automated
  • Dual monitors
  • Accuracy

Kuhn Axis 50.1 H-EMC-W Misses:

  • Poly tarp lid


Kuhn Axis 50.1 H-EMC-W Specifications

MAKE/MODEL:             Kuhn Axis 50.1 H-EMC-W linkage spreader

WORKING WIDTH:       50m

BIN CAPACITY:            4,000 litres

MAXIMUM LOAD:          4,000kg

TARE WEIGHT:            695kg

HEIGHT:                     149cm

RATE ADJUSTMENT:     Electronic

OUTLET CONTROL:      Electronic

WEIGH BARS:             Standard

HOPPER COVER:         Standard

CONTROL BOX:          CCI 100 (ISOBUS)

 Look out for the full report in the upcoming issue of NewFarmMachinery magazine, out November 3. Subscribe to the magazine to never miss an issue.

Video: Andrew Britten

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