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The powerful pump meant I was able to significantly increase the output compared to the old technology.

Georg Henkels, Bockerode Paterhof GbR, Germany - Fendt Rogator 300, 700 Vario

The powerful pump meant I was able to significantly increase the output compared to the old technology.

Smart Knight'

At the gates of Hannover, Bockerode Manor lies in the middle of Calenberg Land, a historic landscape in Lower Saxony. But don’t expect medieval structures, moats and nobility. Away from any major roads, a modern farm has emerged from an ancient estate.

The Calenberg Börde is a 684 km² piece of land to the west and southwest of the state capital of Hannover in Lower Saxony. These fields belong to the former knightly
estates of Bockerode and Paterhof in Eldagsen, which were merged in 2012 to become the Bockerode Paterhof GbR. Today, 290 hectares of arable land with a fertile loess deposits are managed by farm manager, Friedrich Henkels, his sons Georg and Paul and GbR partner, Alexander Block: wheat, maize, sugar beet and potatoes are the staples on the farm’s crop rotation.

“Contemporary and modern agriculture must be in tune with economics and ecology,” explains successor, Georg Henkels. The farm has already proved several times over and to an expert audience, that this challenge can be implemented in practice, with the German Agricultural Society (DLG) having selected the farm for major events such as DLG Field Days and Potato Europe. This means that the fields must be maintained and free of weeds. And that’s a challenge, with fewer resources available for plant protection and resistance increasing. Technology is coming more to the fore when it comes to exact dosing and optimal application times. Plant protection is an important and central topic on this farm in Lower Saxony.

From brave knights to smart farmers

The farm’s successor has searched in vain for an iron suit of armour such as Georg Henkels’ ancestors would have once worn on the knight’s estate. However, when he attaches his Fendt Rogator 355 to the tractor, he has all the protective gear he needs. The young farmer believes in smart farming instead of traditional agriculture. To be prepared for future plant protection, the Henkels decided 18 months ago to buy a new plant protection sprayer. Area coverage, reliability and output performance were on the wishlist, as were comfort and user-friendliness. The farm processes 1,800 ha every year, 700 more for inter-farm use, and the technological requirements were understandably high on the agenda for this purchase decision. In the end, it was the Fendt Rogator that won over the managers.

Tradition meets modernity

Fendt and plant protection – not your first thought when you think of investing in plant protection. But the managers of the estate are open to change, and gave Fendt gave a chance from the hard-fought market of towed sprayers. Of course, traditional values also played a role in their decision to purchase a plant protection solution – trust in the brand and excellent contact with the dealer, Buchheister Landtechnik, who is now overseeing the technology. Advice and service were the two points that ultimately swung the purchase. Since their delivery in January 2019, the new machinery has sprayed well over 3,000 hectares. The Fendt 720 Vario and Fendt Rogator 355 fit together – green harmony with ISOBUS at the core. The plant protection sprayer was used for the first time in February 2019 – when the wheat needed its first nitrogen boost. UAN was accurately spread in the winter months as a starting gift for the spring, and spring herbicides followed.

From then on, there was runout after run-out – 10 to 14 sprays are applied to the potatoes from June to August. Then is when the Rogator 355 with its 5,500 litres of tank capacity really comes into its own. “Timely plant protection in potatoes is crucial for the health of the crop,” explains Georg Henkels. “The powerful pump meant I was able to significantly increase the output compared to the old technology. And I could use it for inter-farm work.” The hookup travels over the crop at an average speed of 9 km/h. To be able to match the row spacing of the potatoes, the 27-metre aluminium boom was equipped with wide-diffusion outer nozzles, to reach the required 28 m spray width. The Henkels’ air-injector flat jet nozzles ID 120-03 and asymmetric air-injector double-flat jet nozzles IDTA 120-04 C have been installed on the boom’s “DualSelect 2+2” nozzle bar, which is controlled from the driver’s seat in the tractor. Depending on the nozzles installed, DualSelect 2+2 can spray from 2 nozzles at the same time. If you are spraying in the dew, all the nozzle bodies are turned on the IDTA 120- 04 C and fewer pesticides are used. This also allows you to experience higher driving speeds of up to 12 km/h.

And yet many of the features offered by this implement are untouched. “With the Rogator, I have all the options I need to set up smart farming on the fields. The next step is to update the tractor technology. Then nothing will stand in the way of us using VarioDoc, TIM etc.,” explains the young farmer, who, at 22, is about to graduate from technical college. He will then gradually introduce the other options. “The advantage of where we are is having even and rounded land. The technical possibilities of the Rogator are therefore much more for working comfort than optimising the use of resources,” the plant managers say with confidence. Nobody knows for sure what challenges plant protection faces in the future, but being properly armed with the right technology is an advantage.

Logical commands

The tractor can clearly communicate with the sprayer and vice versa via the ISOBUS interface – just connect the plug of the sprayer into the socket on the tractor and you can call up all the machine functions on the terminal of the Fendt 720 Vario. Self-explanatory symbols are used onscreen, with only the units shown in writing. Right next to it is the Henkels’ iPad holder. The young farmer uses this to document his plant protection measures in the field database. It couldn’t be an easier process: once Georg Henkels has positioned the hookup in the lane, the Opti-Control joystick comes into play for the first time. The technology can be easily controlled with just one hand. Vario terminal and joystick work together with the AUX-N function.

Switching from transport to field mode, axle steering and boom steering are the first of the 24 joystick functions that come into play. Then a last look into the field database to check the right output volumes, a quick data entry on the terminal, and the spraying process can begin. “Thanks to the tractor’s RTK steering, I can concentrate fully on operating the technology with the joystick. You quickly get used to it, and now it’s just perfect,” says the modern young farmer. He presses the main switch to start the spraying sequence and the action begins.

As soon as Fendt’s automatic boom height guidance, OptiSonic, is active, the boom is automatically kept at the working height, compensating for unevenness in the track and making sure it is neither too far away or too close to the crop. At the headland, the boom arms are automatically lifted in headland mode. Plant protection does not get any easier than this. That’s how they process average run-outs of 17 hectares on this farm. In the summer months, the plant protection hook-up gets to work almost every week around this historic estate. Just as the noble warriors once defended their land, Georg Henkels is now fighting for the health of his crops with modern technology – a smart knight indeed.