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Develop the international market even more efficiently

At the Agritechnica 2019, HORSCH will present several innovations in the plant protection sector. Theo Leeb talked to terraHORSCH about the new self-propelled sprayer generation and about the HORSCH Leeb 12 TD that will be launched soon. Moreover, he delivered insights into the first practical experiences and the feedback of the customers with regard to the HORSCH Leeb AX.

terraHORSCH: The new HORSCH Leeb 6.300 and 8.300 PT line is another generation of self-propelled sprayers. How has the line developed during the past years and why did you back then start to build self-propelled sprayers?
Theo Leeb:
The PT 230, 280 and 270 lines were launched in 2004. They excel particularly due to the 8,000 litres tank and the mechanical traction drive. These Leeb PTs have proven their worth especially on large farms in Northern and Eastern Germany. However, they can only be used to a limited extent in Central and Southern Europe: These regions cultivate a lot of maize and sunflowers. A clearance of only 85 to 90 cm simply is too low.
In 2010, we compensated for this deficit by developing the PT 330 and 350 line. A completely new feature was that the self-propelled sprayers were equipped with a middle cabin – however, this allowed for a tank size of only 5,000 litres. The mounting space of the PT was limited, and a large part of the weight was moved to the rear.
When the HORSCH LEEB Application Systems GmbH was founded, the first objective was to build self-propelled sprayers that were perfectly tailored to large farms in Northern and Eastern Germany. In the meantime, the requirements have become more international. Thus, it is our task to launch a self-propelled sprayer line for the different conditions in the individual regions. All over the world, the requirements on self-propelled sprayers are marked by an extreme variability. This is the reason why we equip the new Leeb 6.300 und 8.300 PT line with a lot of variable equipment options to meet these differing requirements and conditions.

Please explain in a little more detail how the new self-propelled sprayer generation positions itself in a more international way. What are the innovations compared to the predecessor generation of the PTs?
Theo Leeb:
The objective is to meet most of the requirements in Europe, Russia, Australia and even North and South America. During the whole development process, it was very important to sort out what the basic machine concept would have to look like. One of the critical points was the position of the cabin on the chassis. You always can choose between a front or a middle cabin. We deliberately opted for a front cabin, as we had already gathered excellent experiences in the past.
The advantages of the front cabin are that it allows for a larger tank capacity and guarantees an excellent axle load distribution as the tank can be positioned between the axles in an optimum way. The driving comfort, however, at first glance is a little bit worse compared to the middle cabin. To still guarantee an optimum driving comfort we developed a specially adapted suspension system – more precisely a hydro-pneumatic individual wheel suspension with a diagonal cross interconnection. Due to the individual wheel suspension all four wheels spring independently to guarantee a perfect side stability. The diagonal cross interconnection guarantees that when the right front side deflects, the left rear side automatically deflects, too. Thus, the whole machine is kept stable.
This is an excellent example that we as a company develop further and further and are better and better able to attend to the customers’ benefit respectively in this case to the driving comfort. When we developed the PT 280, we equipped it with a pneumatic suspension and a stabilising rear axle. The PT 330 on the other hand is already equipped with a hydro-pneumatic individual wheel suspension, however not yet with the cross interconnection. For us, the combination of both is the next step.

The new self-propelled sprayer generation was adapted to most of the requirements all over the world. How did you manage that? And, in this context, what is the platform “PT for everyone“?
Theo Leeb:
As I already mentioned, the new PT line is based on a basic machine. By configuring individual module elements, the self-propelled sprayers, to a certain extent, can be adapted to the requirements of the market respectively the country. The platform “PT for everyone“ thus virtually describes a modular system. The front cabin, however, is part of the standard equipment of every machine.

PT for everyone: By configuring individual module elements, the self-propelled sprayers can be adapted to the requirements of the market.

What are the elements of this module kit?
Theo Leeb:
There are three different tank sizes: 5,000 l, 6,000 l und 8,000 l. Moreover, the customer can choose between a stainless steel or a polyethylene tank. In addition to two different pump systems, there also are two different frame concepts. The track adjustment is available as adjustable or non-adjustable. We offer two different engines with different performance gradings. Other elements of the module kit among others are the clearance and, of course, country-specific framework conditions like for example the emission levels.

Are there innovations with regard to the drive of the new self-propelled sprayer?
Theo Leeb:
Yes, the new self-propelled sprayer is equipped with a hydraulic drive. We succeeded in transferring our good experiences and the advantages of the mechanical drive to the hydraulic drive. The PT 230, 270 and 280 line is equipped with a mechanical axle drive that guarantees an excellent traction and climbing ability. In the past, hydraulic drives were limited with regard to the climbing ability. We were able to solve this problem by combining an electronic traction control system and a high power drive. Thus, we did not have to compromise with regard to climbing ability, tractive output and traction.

Which components of the new self-propelled sprayer generation will be available as of 2020?
Theo Leeb:
As of 2020, the European version with 6,000 l and 8,000 l will be available – with two different drive gradings: one for normal working conditions and as an alternative one with a HighPowerGear drive for extremely hilly terrain. As of next year, boom widths up to 42 m and clearances up to 1.35 m will be available. The remaining module elements of the platform ”PT for everyone“ will successively be launched in the next two years. As of 2021 a track adjustment system will be available for the European market.

With the HORSCH Leeb 12 TD another innovation in the sector of trailed plant protection sprayers will be launched soon. What hides behind the name Leeb 12 TD?
Theo Leeb:
There was the requirement from the most different regions of Europe to provide larger tank sizes. This motivated us to develop another trailed plant protection sprayer. The Leeb 12 TD will be equipped with a tank capacity of 12,000 l and a boom width of up to 42 m. What is particularly important: The Leeb 12 TD will be equipped with a tandem axle.
Beside the extra-large tank, the most special new feature is the innovative and new tank system. The Leeb 12 TD is equipped with a two-tank-system which is unparalleled on the market. It means that the tank is divided – into a 7,000 l barrel at the front and a 5,000 l barrel in the rear. But you must not consider the tanks as two separate units. They are connected in every respect. One of the characteristics is that they are emptied gradually. First the rear tank is emptied to a certain degree, then the front tank is emptied to a certain degree, then it is the turn of the rear tank again. This procedure guarantees that there always is enough vertical load on the rear axle of the tractor even when driving uphill and that the weight is always distributed in an optimum way. Thus, the tractor can transfer the maximum tractive output.
Another advantage of the two-tank-system is that no baffles are required, for both tank sizes are – regarded individually – relatively manageable. Moreover, no increased cleaning effort is required. The handling, in turn, is very simple. The control of the two-barrel-system is carried out in the background in a completely automatic way. There is a filling connection for filling both tanks automatically. The tanks are emptied in the intelligent way described above. Moreover, there is an automatic control system to make sure that the concentration is the same in both barrels.

What do you think: For which markets will the Leeb 12 TD be particularly suitable? When will it be launched?
Theo Leeb:
We see an enormous potential for the Leeb 12 TD in countries where plant protection technology with a large tank capacity can be used.
The first prototypes are already being tested and will be available for a certain sales area as of next spring. In the first year, we want to concentrate on one market for the Leeb 12 TD.

The HORSCH Leeb AX was launched about one year ago. What about the first practical experiences? Are the customers satisfied with the machine? 
Theo Leeb:
The orders for the Leeb AX exceeded all our expectations for the first year by far. The feedback is extremely positive. The customers are very satisfied by the combination of a simple machine and a highly precise boom control. The machines that have been sold so far are used all over Europe. With the Leeb AX we were able to approach a completely new kind of customers. Moreover, we soon realised that the Leeb AX did not take away the market of the Leeb LT.

What are the special features of the Leeb AX? Which enhancements are planned for it?
Theo Leeb:
The Leeb AX is a trailed sprayer in the medium segment with a 4,000 l polyethylene barrel. It excels due to the high operating comfort and clear operating structures. Like all our plant protection sprayers it is equipped with the BoomControl system to guarantee an optimum boom control. In the meantime, it has become clear, that the market requires tank sizes of up to 8,000 l for the Leeb AX. Apart from that the Leeb AX perfectly fits into the target market.

Does it make sense to develop the concept of the Leeb AX also with an even smaller barrel size?
Theo Leeb:
With a smaller tank size we quickly enter the sector of mounted sprayers. We definitely see some potential in establishing the BoomControl system with a 3-point technology.

What will be the next steps with regard to the development of new plant protection sprayers? Is there another clientele you want to address in the future?
Theo Leeb:
In the long run, our objective is to become a full-line supplier in the plant protection sector. The next logic step, thus, will be to offer a 3-point sprayer someday. We then would meet all requirements in the plant protection sector all over the world.

One final question that often is asked by farmers and dealers: When will HORSCH launch a real individual nozzle switch-off?
Theo Leeb:
We currently offer our booms with up to a maximum of 42 sections. This allows for sections as of 50 cm with an individual layout. The PrecisionSpray system that will be launched offers far more advantages than a mere individual nozzle switch-off. Due to a pulse width modulated control of every single nozzle the application rate per nozzle can be adjusted individually. This allows for an optimum bend compensation. Moreover, blockage problems are solved as the nozzles are about three times as large as the nozzles in a standard system.
Due to the pulse width modulated control the nozzle can be reduced up to 70 per cent. Another important advantage is that the drop size can be adjusted almost independently of the application rate and the operational speed.