REVIEW: Goldacres G series self-propelled sprayer

By: Matt Wood, Photography by: Andrew Britten

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Goldacres has just launched the G3 and G4 series of compact self-propelled sprayers. Matt Wood went for a drive in the new entry level machine.

A good mate of mine, Andy has been juggling a seed grading business with running the small family farm, as well as dealing with the demands of a young family.

Something needed to give so Andy leased out his patch of dirt to focus on the grading business at hand. He is also telling me how long it took him to spray a couple of 80-acre (32.4-hectare) paddocks with his trusty old International AW7 and 1,000-litre trailing spray unit. A bloody eternity.

Others in the industry have come to the same realisation, making Ballarat-based spray equipment manufacturer Goldacres especially keen to point out the efficiency gains possible if you use self-propelled sprayers.

 And in light of this, the company has recently been dedicating its engineering efforts to developing a flexible range of self-propelled units to cater for holdings both big and small.

The latest cabs off the Goldacres rank are the G3 and G4 machines.

As you may have guessed, the G3 is a 3,000-litre unit while the G4 is a 4,000-litre unit. While Goldacres' larger Crop Cruiser range is making inroads as an efficient, lightweight broad acre machine, the new smaller machines are targeted at holdings of 5,000 acres (2,023ha) or less.

The G series is also priced to compete with the purchase cost of a spray-dedicated tractor and trailing spray unit.

 

CONTENTS

The Machines

Power and Driveline

Fuel effficiency

Cab, Comfort and Visibility

Controls

Performance

Verdict

Specifications

 

 

GOLDACRES G SERIES : THE MACHINES

 4016_Goldacres G Series  Wheel Track

Goldacres launched the range with a dealer drive day near the company’s Ballarat headquarters and it proves a good opportunity for me to have a closer squiz at the new units.

At first blush the new G machines don’t appear to be that much smaller than the towering flagship Cropcruiser of which one example is on display.

But a closer look does reveal the more diminutive size of the new units.

The cost of the base G3 machines comes in at around $270,000 depending on specifications, while the higher spec G4 will set you back in the vicinity of $340,000 again depending on specifications.

The G series use disc brakes to bring things to a stop, these are mounted inboard on the drive axle of the G3 while the 4 gets disc stoppers all round.

Wheel track width can be manually adjustable from 2m up to 3m, or a range of fixed width options can be specced.

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GOLDACRES G SERIES POWER AND DRIVELINE

Power is provided by a 165hp (121.4kW) Cummins QSB engine and is transmitted to the drive wheels via an Allison 2500 series automatic transmission.

Also in keeping with the rest of the Goldacres range the power from the tranny gets to the ground through the company’s mechanical chain driven wheel units. These units effectively become a drive leg forming a mechanical connection between the JCB diff and the drive wheels themselves.

The sprockets run a 1:1 ratio to make, meaning that what happens at the top happens at the same speed as what happens down the bottom. This differs markedly from competing machines using hydrostatic transmission and hydraulic wheel motors for propulsion.

The reasoning behind this type of mechanical propulsion is to maximise fuel efficiency and reduce weight. Goldacres also claims a mechanical drive is much cheaper and easier to maintain over the long term. It becomes a total cost of ownership proposition.

The use of this driveline also makes it possible to spray at a very low 1,700rpm, again reinforcing the Goldacres fuel economy position.

While the Allison auto transmission does use a torque converter to get the machine moving, like many autos used these days it mechanically locks up once out of first gear meaning there’s no driveline power loss through the torque converter while working.

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GOLDACRES G SERIES FUEL ECONOMY AND FOOTPRINT

Fuel economy figures from Goldacres after field testing has seen these machines return fuel usage of between 7 and 9 litres per hour.

Another factor at play would be the light tare weight of the machine; the base model G3 equipped with a 24m Delta Plus boom tips the scales with a dry weight of under 8,000kg, while the G4 flagship equipped with a 36m Tritech comes in under 9,500kg.

This also gives the green machine an enviable power to weight ratio and conspires to deliver a very delicate footprint indeed.

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GOLDACRES G3 CAB, COMFORT AND VISIBILITY

4024 Goldacres G Series Visibility

The G series uses cabs sourced from Italian manufacturer Turino and like larger machines in the Goldacres stable feature climate control, a Bluetooth stereo and a chilled drinks compartment.

 I climb aboard one of the base G3 machines for a spin with Goldacres General Manager, Roger Richards, who shows me around the sprayer before handing over the wheel. Getting to the cab is much the same as the larger machines with access via a pneumatic flip-down stair case triggered by applying the park brake.

Getting in through the rear hinged door has me involuntarily sucking in my gut but hey, at least I didn’t whack my head on the way through.

The steering column is adjustable to help get comfy and there’s very little else other than glass between the operator and the outside world. And the view around the entire machine from the cockpit is almost panoramic, making it easier to keep track of the boom ends and any pesky obstacles.

The narrow and relatively short snout of the G3 also helps you keep an eye on whatever lumps and bumps may be coming your way while working.

Noise levels are acceptable but there is a certain rawness about the driveline sound-wise. The cab could be a little better insulated.

The saving grace in this department is the low operating rpm of the driveline which keeps the Cummins-Allison combo rotating at a comfortable noise level.  

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GOLDACRES G3 CONTROLS

As may be apparent from what I’ve already said, conceptually the G series carries over much from the larger Cropcruiser range. The console housing transmission and spray control units are mounted to the air suspended seat meaning both ride the dips and bumps in conjunction with each other.

Raven is standard spray control fitment in Goldacres machines though others can be used if a customer has another preference. The G3 gets the basic SCS450 as standard with an option of the SCS4400.

The Raven interface itself is a good one and refreshing in its simplicity. There are no intimidating screens or pop up parameter windows, every button on the unit does pretty much what it says it does which makes adapting to the machine a lot easier.

There was a time when nobody used to read an owner’s manual, these days people are not only reading instruction manuals for new machines they’re often watching tutorial DVDs as well.

The G4 gets Raven’s SCS4400 as standard equipment and this unit is easily equipped with 3TS and Rapidfire systems. It’s also Autoboom-ready to keep the things that need to be off the ground, off the ground.

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GOLDACRES G3 PERFORMANCE

3999_Goldacres G Series Self -propelled Sprayer

With the 24m boom outstretched I cruise the paddock at 1,700rpm describing lazy laps and getting a feel for the machine. The G series uses three-way boom suspension to deal with the ups and downs as well as the pitch and yaw of the boom while working hard.

The cab itself is rubber block mounted while the chassis is air-suspended in an effort to isolate the driver from any jarring shocks the terrain might throw their way. But it’s here you notice the effect a smaller lighter machine has on ride.

The smaller wheelbase means it can be a little choppy across a paddock. The machine I was driving has a fixed wheel track of 2m, which gives it a bit of lateral chop as well. Much of this I suspect though, is just the nature of a machine of this size, or I could just be a delicate little petal.

We have around a thousand litres of water on board to give a more realistic feel out in the test paddock. After selecting D for ‘go’ on the tranny selector, the little G3 takes off like a startled weaner.

It is clear very quickly the G series in this guise is anything but under-powered; the tranny also has an overdrive lockout which keeps the machine in the lower four gears while working.

At 1,700rpm the G3 is running at a steady spray speed of around 23 km/h. Hitting the cruise button is simply a matter of using the conveniently placed rocker switches on the console. Transport speed in overdrive is limited to 50km/h for scooting down the road to the next job.

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THE VERDICT

There’s a rugged simplicity to the Goldacres line up that makes it quite an attractive proposition. The utilisation of quite a bullet proof driveline which can be repaired or serviced virtually anywhere is an added bonus.

Throw into this the sum of the total cost of ownership savings being touted by the company and it’s definitely worth a closer look. I reckon my mate Andy would agree it sure as hell beats rattling around in the home made cab of an old AW7 Inter.

GOLDACRES G3 HITS:

  • Design simplicity
  • Quoted fuel efficiency

GOLDACRES G3 MISSES:

  • Choppy ride
  • A little on the noisy side

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GOLDACRES G SERIES SPECIFICATIONS

Make/model: Goldacres G series Self-Propelled sprayers

Engine: 4.5-litre Cummins QSB

Power/Torque: 165hp (121.4kW) @ 2,300rpm / 459ft-lb @1,500rpm

Transmission: Allison 2500 5-speed

Main tank capacity: G3-3,000 litres. G4-4,000 litres

Wheel Track: Fixed or adjustable from 2m to 3m

Booms: 18-36m options available Delta Plus and TriTech options.

Transport Width 3,500mm

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Look for the full test report in NewFarmMachinery magazine issue 9, out now. Subscribe to the magazine to have it delivered.

Find Goldacres sprayers for sale.

Look up Goldacres sprayer specifications.

3999 Goldacres G series self propelled sprayer The new G series is a lighter compact and more affordable machine aimed at smaller holdings. 3999 Goldacres G series self propelled sprayer
3993 Goldacres G series The G3 is light on its feet in more ways than one, it’s also very nimble. 3993 Goldacres G series
3978 Goldacres G series range A nice bit of product placement. 3978 Goldacres G series range
4018 Goldacres G series driveline A simple and robust driveline. 4018 Goldacres G series driveline
4016 Goldacres G series wheel track This G3 rides on a 2m wheel track and proved to be quite a spritely performer. 4016 Goldacres G series wheel track
3952 Goldacres G series disc brakes This G3 rides on a 2m wheel track and proved to be quite a spritely performer. 3952 Goldacres G series disc brakes
3950 Goldacres G series Hendrickson air bags Hendrickson air bags help iron out the bumps. 3950 Goldacres G series Hendrickson air bags
4024 Goldacres G series visibility Visibility from the cab is excellent and it’s quite a comfy environment. 4024 Goldacres G series visibility
4039 Goldacres G series controls Spray control and transmission controls are simple and easy to use. Raven is standard spray control fitment. 4039 Goldacres G series controls

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