Agritechnica 2015: Horsch presents intelligent boom control system

By: Carene Chong, Video by: Carene Chong, footage credits: Horsch

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German agricultural equipment manufacturer Horsch has launched its new BoomSight spray boom control system which allows the boom to act immediately and automatically based on its surroundings.

The system has been awarded a silver medal for innovation at Agritechnica 2015 by the German Agricultural Society.

Instead of sensors on the boom itself, the technology is based on a sensor mounted on the roof of the sprayer’s cab which scans a range of approximately 20m to the front and 15m to the left and right of the sprayer.   

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"This laser scanner empowers us to see what is in front of and around the machine so we can switch from reacting to acting with the boom," says Horsch’s head of communication and design Daniel Brandt.

Based on the measured data, a surface model is then created that reflects the terrain on which the sprayer is working on including gaps, tramlines or irregularities on the property or in the crop.

From the model that was created, the boom adjusts itself to suit its surroundings, ie lift the boom up over small poles or fences in the ground.

If an obstacle is too high for the boom to lift over, for example a power pole, a warning will be issued to the operator who can then stop the sprayer and drive around the obstacle. 

In the case of a gap in the field due to wildlife damage or poor germination, normal sensor based booms would dive into the crop. Horsch’s BoomSight technology will recognise the gap in the field and guide the boom automatically over the area.

The technology was launched into the market alongside Horsch’s new Leeb PT 330 sprayer which was introduced at Agritechnica 2013 as a concept.

The new self-propelled sprayer offers 330hp and has been designed to spray higher crops like sunflower and maize with its ground clearance of 1.6m.

According to Brandt, BoomSight is not Horsch’s first medal-winning product from its crop protection range. Two years ago, the company won a silver medal at the last Agritechnica for its BoomControl Pro technology which maintains the sprayer boom at a low and steady position regardless of speed and terrain.  

"The system allows farmers to get the boom down to 30cm from the ground instead of the normal distance of about 60cm," he says.

"You have two benefits here; you will be working very near to your crops and therefore be very efficient and precise with your application and also, you can get rid of the perception that farmers are environmental polluters."

Horsch says the BoomSight will be offered as an option for all machines with the BoomControl Pro technology installed.

The company has been working with Victoria based distributor Muddy River Agricultural to bring its range of tillage equipment into Australia.

"In the last year, Australia has proved to be a growing market for us," Brandt says.

"We don’t bring German or European technology to Australia but instead optimise our technology specifically to work in Australia.

"That’s what we did together with Muddy River Agricultural and I think that’s the reason why our sales are growing so fast there."

While there are no plans yet to introduce Horsch’s plant protection range into the Australian market, Brandt says the company is certainly looking forward to doing so in the near future.

"When they (Muddy River Agricultural) think we are in the right state to bring the sprayers into Australia then we will do it together with them," Brandt says.

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