A New Weapon In The Weed War

Spray difficult weeds on time, on rate and on target with the RoGator® C Series.

By Jason Jenkins | Photos By AGCO Corp.

When it comes to combating herbicide-resistant weeds, Brandon Grubbs of Cullom, Illinois, has a unique perspective. While he’s a grain farmer dealing with the issue in his own corn and soybean fields, he’s also a custom applicator working to keep problem weeds from taking root in other farmers’ fields.

“We really don’t worry about many weeds, just the [resistant] waterhemp,” he says matter-of-factly. “That one keeps me up at night.”

Grubbs isn’t alone. Herbicide-resistant weeds, including marestail, pigweed and waterhemp, are causing many sleepless nights for farmers and custom applicators alike. To battle these weeds, they need to use every tool at their disposal. Many of today’s weed-control chemistries require unprecedented application precision to prevent and battle resistance. 

The new RoGator C Series by Challenger® self-propelled sprayer takes on-time, on-target application to a new level, says Joe Dimler, AGCO® application product specialist. With its industry-leading technology, RoGator ensures that crop-protection products are used to their maximum efficacy.

Complete Coverage

Combating resistance requires an applicator to employ an edge-to-edge strategy, Dimler says. It’s crucial that the first acre sprayed is no different than the last.

“It’s not uncommon for a resistant weed to develop on the edge of a field, so really, the most critical time to have a ‘hot load’ [one with water and herbicide mixed] ready to go out the boom is right away when you pull in a field,” he explains. “Three to 4 acres of headland spraying, where you’re not getting a full rate of active ingredients from those herbicides, is just going to speed up your resistance.”

Thanks to the RoGator’s new LiquidLogic® system, this edge-to-edge strategy is much easier to employ, Dimler says. Product is continuously circulated through the FlowLogic™ boom, plumbing and filters, which offers a number of advantages.

First, the self-priming boom saves time and eliminates the wasteful spraying that older boom systems required to fully charge the system. Grubbs says this feature alone on his model RG1100C RoGator saved his business, B&D Chemical, 20 hours of prep time during the 2018 application season.

In the past, Dimler adds, priming and charging a 120-foot boom, for example, could take from 40 to 60 gallons of product. An applicator had two choices: Sit at the edge of the field, priming the boom and spraying excessive product in one place, or start spraying immediately and risk poor product coverage.

“The ability to prime your boom without putting any product down on the ground is probably the largest selling feature on the C Series,” Dimler says, noting that AGCO estimates the feature saves up to $120 in chemical costs with every tank change. “We can send product from tank to the boom and then back to tank without applying.”

Second, the RoGator C’s full-recovery system, known as ClearFlow,™ pushes unused product from the plumbing back into the tank, where it can be reagitated or offloaded, minimizing waste and potential contamination. “Being able to pull that product back to tank, literally leaving your plumbing bone dry, is going to prevent a lot of plugging and settling than can occur with product remaining in the boom,” Dimler adds. 

Complete Control

Delivering full-rate herbicide applications without overlap is critical, too. It’s important not only for managing resistant weeds, but also for minimizing crop damage and unnecessary product expense. The RoGator C Series’ NozzleLogic™ system allows an applicator to precisely control 36 boom sections, ensuring product is sprayed only where it’s wanted. Optional boom-leveling systems provide spray-height management for optimum coverage.

“AGCO also offers optional pulse width modulation [PWM] systems that provide for even more precise individual nozzle control,” Dimler says. “These systems offer turn compensation, meaning that the flow of each nozzle varies as the machine makes turns. This prevents overapplication toward the center of the boom and underapplication at the ends.”

These PWM and section-control systems optimize the RoGator’s headland management. Even in fields with square corners, the simple touch of a button allows the applicator to select an automated sequence that avoids overapplication.

Also increasing productivity is the RoGator’s drive system. The AWD SmartDrive™ offers shuttle speed controls to achieve proper application speeds at the touch of a button. When combined with other automated controls, the machine is more productive with the highest level of precision, saving an irreplaceable asset: time.

Adding to the precision is the OptiLoad™ level sensor, which enables an operator to select the exact amount of product to apply over a given acreage. This, too, ensures that the proper rate is applied in one pass, helping to prevent potential weed escapes that can lead to resistance.

Back in Illinois, Grubbs estimates that he sprayed about 25,000 crop acres and spent more than 400 hours in his RG1100C in 2018, and says the machine met all his expectations. “We just have one rig, so we’re switching chemicals all the time,” he says. “That’s one thing that’s awesome about the LiquidLogic system. We’re able to clean the machine out so much better. And since we’re not letting product sit in the lines, we’re not getting clogged nozzles or filters. 

“We know we always have fresh product,” Grubbs continues. “It’d be awful hard to get me out of this RoGator.”