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Tips to help your crews get the most out of spreader-sprayers

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(Photo: Steel Green)
(Photo: Steel Green)

Time to dust off the spreader-sprayers for another season in the sun. Mastering the machines is no big deal, says Scott Kinkead, executive vice president of Turfco Manufacturing, Blaine, Minn. According to him, companies need to focus on the man versus the machine.

“It’s not just, ‘clean your engine and look for parts that are worn out,’” Kinkead says. “We can give you all that stuff. But there’s two things: here’s what to do for the product … and here’s what you need to do for your staff.”

Starting over

Brice Crawford
Brice Crawford

Brice Crawford is the president and owner of Backslope, a manufacturer of spreaders and sprayers based in Lincoln, Neb. Readers might remember the Ground Logic line of spreaders and sprayers — Crawford sold that line in 2017 and is “starting over.” He’s been working on Backslope’s Rival 120 and 220, as well as the Pursuit 120 and 220, for two years. He launched at the beginning of this year.

His main goal for Backslope is improved hill stability and better machine control. They’ve accomplished this, he says, by adding lower side tanks and a lower hopper position, lowering the center of gravity.

He also wants the machines to be simpler, he says, because the market demands it.

“We’ve taken away a lot of the clutter from some of these machines and made it simpler,” he says. “A new feature is the gate open/closed lever. You’re able to operate that with either hand without moving your hands from the handlebars. That’s been a nice feature compared to our old machines where you had to move a lever and take your hand off the handlebar to do that.”

Under pressure

Matt Smith
Matt Smith

Matt Smith, co-founder of Steel Green, Lebanon, Ind., says now that the company is in year six, the newness has worn off. Now, customers are looking hard at the options the company offers.

Their pressure control system and their hillside assist kit are two options that have drawn attention because they make operation easier, he says.

“You can set your pressure and operate the machine and it’s going to stay at your desired pressure without the gauge moving up or down,” Smith says. “With hillside assist, any type of terrain, flip a switch … it’s going to engage the front casters to cylinders to lock the front casters in place. That way you can be on a hillside and keep straight without those casters potentially moving.”

Will Haselbauer
Will Haselbauer

Grip the wheel and go

Will Haselbauer, president of bioLawn, bioTree and bioHome in Minneapolis, says his Turfco spreader-sprayers are always ready to go come springtime. His company focuses on training for the crew at this time of year.

He relies on Trainual to share classroom training for operators before they’re in the field. Following successful online learning, operators get a three-day introduction to the machine. After that, operators are monitored in the field to ensure they’re handling the equipment properly.

Scott Kinkead
Scott Kinkead

“The Turfcos are so easy to run,” Haselbauer says. “They’re simple because of the steering wheel. People who don’t have any lawn care or mowing experience, we can have them up and trained in a week. People who have been running mowers? It normally takes another three to five days, just because they’re so used to running a complicated machine that requires both hands.”

“What we’re dealing with right now is you’re cranking along and then you lose a key member of the crew,” Kinkead says. “Turnover in lawn care right now is pretty significant. We designed the T3200 with the idea that it needs to be really simple to operate. We look at it as, ‘If your crew can’t drive this … we don’t know how they got to work in the morning.’”

Photo: Seth Jones

Seth Jones

Seth Jones is is editor-in-chief of Landscape Management, Golfdom and Athletic Turf magazines. A graduate of Kansas University’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Seth was voted best columnist in the industry in 2014 and 2018 by the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. He has more than 23 years of experience in the golf and turf industries and has traveled the world seeking great stories.

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