As featured in Arable Farming Magazine

Closed transfer coming closer

by Arable Farming Nov/Dec 2020 issue

One year on from an agreement by crop protection manufacturers to supply a standard cap for closed transfer spray systems, Jane Carley assesses progress to market.

Closed chemical transfer (CT) systems rely on a purpose-designed coupler to open chemical containers with compatible caps; empty the container into the sprayer; and rinse the container without the operator coming into contact with the product.

To date, six crop protection product manufacturers – Adama, BASF, Certis, Corteva Agriscience, Nufarm and Syngenta – support the easyconnect system and will introduce it in Denmark and the Netherlands next year, followed by France, Germany and the United Kingdom in 2022.

Other countries are likely to follow.

The components of the easyconnect system – the easyconnect cap and the coupler – are being continuously improved based on farmers’ feedback from practical trials.

Polly Lawman, market approach implementation lead for BASF, says: “Mid- to long-term, BASF’s intention is to equip the complete product portfolio in Europe with the easyconnect cap.

Standard

“The cap is suitable for all containers with the industry standard IS 63 neck, irrespective of container size and manufacturer.

IS 63 covers container sizes of one, three, five litres, 10 and 15 litres.

“The easyconnect technology is open to all interested industry parties in the agrochemical sector.

All crop protection manufacturers can support the easyconnect system by equipping their products with the easyconnect cap.

The benefit for the farmer is the freedom to choose from a wide range of crop protection products from different manufacturers, all compatible with the easyconnect system, providing maximum convenience and safety for the operator and the environment.” Pentair’s Cleanload Nexus Closed Transfer Coupler for easyconnect is still in development and the company plans to launch it at EIMA in February 2021, with commercial availability later in the year, explains product manager Roger James.

“We anticipate that once the easyconnect caps start to be pre-fitted to containers by crop protection product companies there will be significant interest in the coupler from farmers.

Easyconnect offers the benefits of speed, elimination of operator exposure and simplicity of operation.”

Prototype

“Over the last few months we have had the opportunity to test various versions of prototype couplers with farmers in the UK, Germany, France, Denmark and Netherlands.

“We have received really useful feedback from this exercise and it has allowed us to make a number of significant internal design enhancements to make it a really robust system.” Mr James adds the Cleanload Nexus will be retrofitted to sprayers initially, either mounted on the sprayer if there is space or mounted to a bracket at the filling point and quick coupled to the sprayer during filling.

It will be sold through the Pentair Hypro distribution network as well as to OEMs and their dealers.

“However, we anticipate that increasingly it will start to be designed into the induction areas of new sprayers as demand grows for closed transfer and so be delivered integrated on the sprayer.

“In parallel to development we have been doing the standard work necessary to prepare for volume manufacturing at one of Pentair’s European manufacturing locations.” John Deere is offering a quick-coupling connection for the easyconnect system as an option on its new R700 trailed sprayer range, and product specialist Mark James expects this to follow on other models and, ultimately, to be available as a retrofit.

“Easyconnnect now uses a standard iso connector so it is a simple modification.

Connection

“We work closely with manufacturer Pentair and hope to become suppliers for the system when it enters commercial production.

The connection adds £755 to the cost of the sprayer,” he says.

Mr James adds that while few sprayers have space to fit a CT system, he expects they will eventually be integrated into the overall design.

“It is likely that closed transfer will become a standard fitment in the future and there is plenty of time for the system to be considered in sprayer developments going forward.” Bayer originally launched its easyFlow CT system in 2014, developed and distributed by agrotop.

EasyFlow is made up of a tank adapter and a reusable canister adapter.

The tank adapter can be easily mounted onto induction hoppers in about half an hour, says Bayer.

So far, easyFlow-systems have been distributed or sold in the EU 27 market, as well as in the UK, Serbia, and the USA.

Final testing and conclusions from Bayer are due to be presented in 2021.

In the field Nick Field, West Sussex

Farmer and contractor Nick Field shares a sprayer filling area with Norfolk Estate Farms, Arundel, West Sussex.

An easyconnect unit is being trialled to fill both his Knight self-propelled sprayer and the estate’s Fastrac/ Knight demount combination, which between them cover some 6,250 hectares a year.

“We built a freestanding trolley to move the easyconnect between the two sprayers and each machine has been fitted with flush fit couplings to fill from it,” Mr Field explains.

Compatible

“We currently have to remove the caps from containers and fit a compatible version, but as well as being a safer operation, once the products are supplied with dedicated caps it will be much quicker than filling the sprayer through an induction bowl.” He says the compatible caps have changed in design a couple of times during the process but now work well, and all products they have tried induct smoothly.

Fitting the container into the easyconnect and rinsing out once empty is described as ‘user friendly’.

Mr Field says other operators in the trial have requested a modification to induct part-packs and he would also be keen to try this out.

“The unit was supplied via Nufarm distributor Bartholomews, and they collect our feedback and monitor the process so we can contribute to the ongoing development of the system.

“Our trial is open-ended but we look forward to continuing to use a product which contributes to the safety and efficiency of spraying.”

In the field Matt Redman, Cambridgeshire

Cambridgeshire contractor and NAAC chairman Matt Redman has also been trialling the easyconnect system for several seasons, having initially mounted the unit on a trailed sprayer.

“But now we use it to fill our two Batemans so it is easier to keep it at the filling point,” he says.

“Long term it will need to be integrated with the sprayer, especially where we are contract spraying, and how to retrofit the unit onto an existing machine is one of the issues that will have to be tackled.

It’s easier on a new sprayer as manufacturers will be able to include them into the initial design.” The trial has proved the ease of use of the system.

He says: “It’s as quick or quicker than using an induction hopper, the cans are easy to put on and take off.

The only improvement we would like to see is the ability to induct part cans.

For this we need to be able to measure the remaining chemical which means making the packs translucent.

Exposure

“We’ve been able to fit the compatible cap to all of the products that we use except Roundup, and that comes in an IBC so filling is low exposure anyway.

One or two generic products that come in one litre packs don’t fit the cap, but I believe manufacturers will come to realise that unless they fit their packs with closed transfer caps, operators won’t use their products.

We are all are very aware of the need to reduce exposure, and every time the topic comes up on social media there is a lot of interest.” Mr Redman adds that the crop protection partners who signed up to the scheme have been engaged with the progress of the trial and have visited him to see how he is getting on.

“I was keen to trial the system as I believe it will be required in the future, so it makes sense to be able to offer feedback and ensure it meet our needs when it goes into production,” he says.

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2021-05-21T08:53:08+01:00November 6th, 2020|Blog Post|
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