REVIEW: Agrifac Condor self-propelled sprayer

By: Tom Dickson, Photography by: David Gilchrist, Video by: David Gilchrist

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With a wingspan of approximately 3m the mighty Condor is one of the largest birds on earth. Tom Dickson travelled to Western Australia in search of the Agrifac self-propelled sprayer that bears its name.

One of the latest releases onto the Australian agricultural market is the Condor range of self-propelled boom sprayers made by Agrifac.

Little is known about the Agrifac Condor in Australia at the moment. It is only in recent times that Agrifac products has landed on Australian shores.

The first Condor arrived a few years ago when a farmer imported a machine privately and currently, only a handful have been imported here by Agrifac since.

Though new to Australia Agrifac is a well-known brand in the Netherlands, where it’s designed and manufactured, and throughout the United Kingdom.

The company began as the maker of a simple knapsack potato sprayer in 1939 then progressed to basic linkage sprayers in 1948. In 1973 production line manufacturing of linkage and trailed sprayers began but the real leap came in 1986 with the introduction of Agrifac’s trademark Stabilo Plus chassis.

At the moment there are only a couple of the Condor sprayers in Australia but I’ve tracked down a Condor Wide Track Plus in the southern grain belt of Western Australia about an hour and a half north of Albany.

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Contents

Machine overview

StabiloPlus Chassis

Comfort and visibility

Controls

Performance

Verdict

Specifications

 

Agrifac Condor: An overview

7809_Agrifac Condor _1

The Wide Track Plus has a 5,000-litre poly tank, 36m J-boom fitted with Green Flow Plus spray delivery technology.

It’s powered by a 286hp (213kW) 6 cylinder Iveco diesel engine and rides on the signature StabiloPlus Chassis.

I’ve been told the Stabilo Plus chassis is the most important of the Condor’s features and is the number one contributing factor to its versatility in track widths. It also maximises driver comfort and gentle boom ride.

The chassis is still used in all the Condor range and now includes air suspension and stepless track width adjustment to fit into a variety of controlled traffic tram track farm practices.

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Agrifac Condor StabiloPlus Chassis

I head underneath the machine first to find out what is so special about the trademark chassis.

My first impression is how easy it is to get under which is due to ground clearance height on the Widetrack Plus of 125cm. I’m expecting to find a complicated structure under here, but am pleasantly surprised at just how basic and simple it is to see how everything works.

It is a walking beam type set-up. Each side beam pivots in the centre and has air bag suspension at either end where the wheels attach.

The walking beam distributes the effects of bumps and undulations between the front and back wheels which in turn halves the effect on the machine.

Each side beam can slide in and out to allow track widths between 225cm and 300cm, or in this case 235cm and 315cm because it is running slightly larger 480/80 R46 Michelin tyres.

The track width transformation takes only seconds to achieve while moving at slow speed and is done from within the cab via the Eco Tronic touchscreen.

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Agrifac Condor comfort and visibility

7966_Agrifac Condor _mirrors

Time to jump in and find out what it’s like to drive and if this StabiloPlus Chassis really does provide a comfy ride.

There is nothing to fault regarding the cabin space. It has a comfy suspension seat with all the controls mounted on the armrest but this is virtually typical of all modern machinery nowadays.

The vision on the other hand is exceptional. The cabin is mounted out the front of the chassis so there is nothing forward or to the side to obstruct my view giving me the sensation that I am actually suspended in mid-air out the front of the machine.

From here I can easily see virtually straight down to the ground and all around. The tank, pumps and motor are behind the cab and the boom is at the rear.

This configuration makes the most sense to me because it provides unobstructed vision, reduces noise levels from the engine and minimises spray mist over the cabin and windows.

With all the windows and mirrors I am getting a great view of the boom and for those hard to see areas there are up to three on board cameras sending images back to an in-cab monitor.  

A nifty little feature is the folding steps. By pressing a button on the back of the handgrip controller the steps fold up out of the way level with the bottom of the chassis.

Climate control and a modern surround sound system keep the driver as comfortable as possible and underneath the passenger seat is a heating and cooling food storage compartment.

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Agrifac Condor Controls

I’m pleased to discover it doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to get the Condor working, in fact quite the opposite.

A turn of the key fires the 6.7-litre diesel into life then with guidance from Slater I boost engine speed up to fourteen hundred revs. Slater says that under normal conditions this is the optimum revs to generate enough power to run the hydrostatic transmission while maximising fuel efficiency.

"Fuel economy rates as low as 12 to 14 litres can be achieved at this engine speed," he tells me.

The Condor carries 270 litres of fuel, which means it could easily do a couple of long days spraying before a refuel is required.

We have set cruise control to 27km/h but it can be anywhere between 0km/h and 35km/h.

To get the show on the road I move the joystick controller sideways out of neutral then push forward. It’s that simple. If I push it all the way forward we achieve gentle acceleration up to the pre-set cruise control speed.

At 27km/h we seemed to just float along and I really don’t feel like I’m travelling that fast. The steering takes a little bit of getting used to and I expect that’s because I’m not used to driving a vehicle with hydrostatic steering.

Spraying is controlled and monitored via an EcoTronicPlus display system on the Condor which I feel very comfortable using.

The major feature on the display is a clear diagram of the spray rig and all of its spray lines and tanks. At a glance I can see exactly how much spray mix is in the main tank and the amount of water in the 450-litre fresh water rinse tank.

I can also see a diagram of where the spray mix is flowing through pipes and shut off valves. From within the cab I can direct flow anywhere from the main tank to the tips of the boom including the rinse cycle and self-filling apparatus.

All around the outside of the EcoTronicPlus screen is other valuable info relating to the engine status, spray rates and pressures. It is one of the most intuitive and easy to follow screens I have operated.

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Agrifac Condor Spraying Performance

Agrifac Condor Unfolding

A second smaller joystick takes care of all the boom folding operations. Opening the 36m boom, which is divided into three sections either side plus a rigid middle section, is a three-step process.

The boom has a very gentle transition to the open position then it’s just a matter of lowering it to the pre-set operating height.

Mounted at the end of each boom is a sonic sensor that maintains precise working height at all times. It can be programed to keep equal distance from the ground or from the top of the crop.

I am cruising along at 27km/h and the boom is riding beautifully. Even while I am spraying around hills the boom seems to react instantly to the sensors signals and maintains perfect height.

At 27km/h the 36m boom can spray about 97 hectares per hour making fuel usage per hectare around 20 cents per hectare.

Spraying solution is delivered from the tank to the nozzles by a system called Green Flow Plus. This basically means chemical is supplied accurately with air assistance through the shortest amount of pipe.

It has only one delivery line that flows as a continual loop running the full length of the boom then back to the tank. As the tank fill process begins, the pump begins circulating the contents of the tank throughout the whole system ensuring mixed spray is at each nozzle at the start of the job.

By eliminating all of the sectional delivery hoses the amount of unused spray left sitting in hoses along the boom is kept to an absolute minimum.

There is no sectional shut off but each individual nozzle has an airline, HTA or HighTechAir that can cease flow through individual nozzles and also adjust droplet size through the nozzles to optimise spray quality in all conditions.

A couple of times I deliberately hang the boom out over a previously sprayed area and almost instantly the Trimble guidance system begins shutting down individual nozzles to avoid over spraying.

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The Verdict

Overall I’d say great chassis design, boom ride, comfort, vision, simplicity and amazing fuel economy. In addition it has a terrific light package, mirrors and electronic visual aids and perhaps the only negative is it takes me a little while to adjust to the hydrostatic steering, but on the whole a great machine.

I am always a bit hesitant about including prices because each deal can vary but a ball park figure is about $495,000.

The Condor Endurance may be a better option for all the broad acre cropping guys. The Endurance has an 8,000-litre tank and more options regarding track widths and accessories.

As I watch the wide Track Plus gracefully spread its boom I can’t help comparing it to the flying Condor and can imagine this one taking off in Australia.

Agrifac Condor Hits:

  • StabiloPlus chassis
  • Comfort and ride
  • GreenFlowPlus spray circulation
  • Incredible vision
  • EcoTronicPlus control monitor
  • Front cab/Rear boom configuration
  • Auto greasing

Agrifac Condor Misses:

  • Steering response

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Agrifac Condor Specifications 

ENGINE: Iveco, 6 cylinder, 286hp (213kW), Tier 4 interim with AdBlue

TRANSMISSION: Hydrostatic, 4WD, High/Low/Road ranges

CHASSIS: StabiloPlus

SUSPENSION: Air

STEERING: Four wheel / two wheel / crab steer

TRACK WIDTH: 235 – 315 cm

 

CAPACITIES

SPRAY TANK: 5,000 litres

RINSE TANK: 450 litres

FUEL TANK: 270 litres

HYD. OIL TANK: 80 litres

 

BOOM: J-BOOM WITH GreenFlowPlus, 36m

DIMENSIONS: 870-942cm L x 275-300cm W x 378 cm H

GROUND CLEARANCE: 125cm

WEIGHT: 9,300kg

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For the full detailed report, don’t miss New Farm Machinery magazine’s January 2015 issue, out December 29. Subscribe to the magazine to secure your copy.

Look up self-propelled sprayer specifications.

7809 Agrifac Condor 1 The Agrifac Condor WideTrackPlus boasts great ground clearance, stepless track width adjustment and unobstructed vision from the out front cabin. 7809 Agrifac Condor 1
7857 Agrifac Condor air bag suspension Air bag suspension on all four corners of the Stabilo Plus chassis. 7857 Agrifac Condor air bag suspension
7859 Agrifac Condor stabiloplus chassis The Stabilo Plus Chassis slides in and out on the centre beam for stepless track widths between 225cm and 320cm. 7859 Agrifac Condor stabiloplus chassis
7860 Agrifac Condor maintenance points Daily maintenance checks are few and easy to access. 7860 Agrifac Condor maintenance points
7866 Agrifac Condor induction hopper Hidden away under the side cover is the stainless steel induction hopper with drum rinse and fresh water spray gun. 7866 Agrifac Condor induction hopper
7879 Agrifac Condor Jboom The J-Boom with GreenFlow Plus has only one delivery line with a return line back to the tank providing continual spray mix circulation. 7879 Agrifac Condor Jboom
7882 Agrifac Condor HTAPlus High Tech Air Plus fitted on the J-Boom allows the operator to create the perfect droplet size without having to change nozzles. 7882 Agrifac Condor HTAPlus
7890 Agrifac Condor round beam JBoom The round beam on the J-Boom adds strength and durability on booms up to fifty one metres wide. 7890 Agrifac Condor round beam JBoom
7966 Agrifac Condor mirrors An abundance of mirrors provide excellent vision to every area on the sprayer. 7966 Agrifac Condor mirrors
Agrifac Condor unfolding In a matter of seconds the Condor spreads its wings and is ready for work. Agrifac Condor unfolding

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