Operators of John Deere's new 4930 self-propelled sprayers may get tired of spraying before the sprayers run out of something to spray.

The 4930, the new and improved version of the 4920 model, is equipped with a 1,200-gallon spray tank. The liquid spray tank can be removed and replaced with a 200-cubic-foot dry Ag Leader box for fertilizer or lime applications.

With spray boom widths of up to 120 feet and an optional high-flow plumbing system that can deliver up to 50 gallons of spray solution per acre, drivers can cover a lot of ground with the new sprayer — liquid or dry.

“We have some guys in Canada and Brazil who can do up to 2,500 acres per day,” says Craig Weynand, product marketing manager for John Deere's Des Moines Works. “It helps that the sprayer has a 140-gallon fuel tank that is designed to allow you to run for 16 hours without re-fueling.”

More horsepower

Weynand says Deere has increased the horsepower on the 4930 to 325 horsepower, outfitted it with a 1,200-gallon high flow solution system and designed it to maintain spray speeds in soft or hilly terrain.

“Commercial operators will cover more acres in less time and, with new guidance and boom control technology, become more efficient with every pass in the field,” he says.

Weynand was speaking at a John Deere media event in Orlando, Fla. Editors got a “sneak preview” of both the 4920 and its sister model, the 4720, which features a smaller engine — compared to the 8.1-liter, 300-horsepower 4920 engine — and a smaller 800-gallon spray tank. Since then, the company has introduced the improved version of the 4920 as the 4930.

For the last three years, Deere has been bringing dealer personnel to a site north of Orlando to train them on the latest developments in its sprayer fleet. More than 800 dealer employees have now gone through the training.

“We began designing the 4700 series sprayers in 1994,” said Weynand. “Now we have more than 35 4720 and 4920 sprayers worth $8 million in a field here in Florida for this training event.”

Both the 4720's new 225-hp engine and the 4920's 300-hp engine are compliant with Tier II of the EPA's air quality requirements, according to Weynand.

The 4920 and 4720 both get better fuel efficiency because they come equipped with electric wheel motors than enable the sprayers to handle hilly or wet field conditions. The power bulge from the electric motors takes the 4720 to 232 horsepower.

The 4930, which was designed for commercial operators and large-acreage farmers, is equipped with an electronically controlled drive train. The automatic four-wheel drive systems features two hydrostatic pumps that drive four bent-axis wheel motors and four massive final drives.

The drive system provides maximum torque at the start, whether in the field or in the road. The sprayer can be driven at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour on the road, and the high torque does not compromise the transport speed.

“Field speeds can be automatically dialed in from 1 to 20 mph, and this state-of-the-art system features a design similar to the Infinitely Variable Transmission on the new 7020 Series tractors,” says Reid Hester, regional manager, commercial application for John Deere.

“A convenient thumb switch on the hydro handle easily adjusts target speed settings, and when the operator pushes the hydro handle clear forward, the sprayer will move to the target speed.”

Both the sprayers also are equipped with a new feature for 2006: Swath Control Pro. The new system controls the boom sections and spray nozzles, turning individual sections on and off automatically based on a Global Positioning System or GPS coverage map that can be created at planting or when the sprayer moves through the field.

“This is a neat feature that allows the operator to optimize the performance of the sprayer,” says Weynand. “Our research shows an overall reduction of at least 5 percent of the input costs when using Swath Control Pro and AutoTrac on John Deere sprayers.”

Operators can also turn sections on an off using a feature called the Index Boom Section or IBS.

“Our customers wanted a hydro handle that was not cluttered with buttons and switches, but they still wanted fingertip control on spraying applications,” says Hester. “The IBS manages the seven individual spray sections on the 120-foot boom, without cluttering the hydro handle.

“When the sprayer approaches a waterway, for example, the operator can press a button on the hydrostatic handle to shut off individual boom sections and eliminate spraying the water. As the rest of the boom moves through the waterway, the operator can continue to shut off individual sections to match up to the waterway. When the other side of the spray boom enters back into the crop, the operator can begin turning the spray sections back on.”

AutoTrac, John Deere's GPS-guided automatic steering system, is also a popular feature on the sprayers.

“We have about a 94 percent take rate on Auto Trac,” said James Woosley, product specialist with John Deere. “Operators say it allows them to concentrate on the spray booms rather than focusing on driving the sprayer.”

Flexible boom

The 120-foot boom that comes on the 4930 sprayer is also capable of spraying in a folded position of 70- and 90-feet, says Woosley. On board, air-driven foam markers are also available for the 90- and 120-foot spray widths.

“You might wonder why operators would want foam markets on a sprayer equipped with AutoTrac, but there are times when people like to use foam,” he said. “In 2006, a 50-gallon foam tank will replace 30- or 35-gallon tanks.”

The triangular design of the new boom features round tubing and laser-cut support pieces for consistent fabrication and the strongest wells. “There are 1,018 welds from beginning to end on top of the 120-foot boom,” Woosley said.

The 120-foot boom also offers two systems for breakaway protection. “Standard on all 4930 sprayers is the 13-foot-tip breakaway section. The optional full-boom breakaway, which is reset hydraulically, is also available,” says Hester.

Another wrinkle

Another new wrinkle that could save operators a lot of steps is the unique feature that allows filling the tank from ground level. The feature includes a 3-inch factory-installed Quik-Fill nozzle that reduces fill time in half. The nozzle is integrated in the sprayers Solution Command System.

The SCS is an automated loading and rinsing process that saves time by simplifying the filling and cleaning procedure. Operators do not have to turn valves or climb ladders to rinse the solution system.

Electric and air-actuated valves are controlled by the Solution Command System to ensure optimal settings when loading and rinsing, says Woosley. The 150-gallon rinse tank allows the new auto-rinse system to flush the solution tank up to three times. From the cab, operators can select the desired rinse cycle and activate the system with the push of a single button.

The 4930 also features a chemical eductor attachment that allows the operator to conveniently add pesticides or plant nutrients to the tank while standing beside the machine on the ground.

“The stainless steel bowl with a 5.5-gallon capacity will hold one 51-pound bag of ammonium sulfate, and has the capacity to load the 51 pounds of AMS in 14 seconds,” says Woosley. “When the eductor valve is open, the contents in the eductor are immediately drawn into the pressure line through a venturi and carried to the solution tank. The design of the bowl and location of the venturi ensure that all chemicals and other products will be completely evacuated into the solution tank.”