Carbon Fibre Sprayer Booms: Can They Take a Licking and Keep on Ticking?

Would a carbon fibre spray boom be strong enough to withstand the rigour of continuous field spraying?

That’s a question John Deere intends to answer as it continues to look for ways to substitute the composite material for the steel and aluminum traditionally used in farm equipment, such as boom sprayers. At its annual product launch last week, just prior to the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, John Deere showed off an innovative carbon fibre boom for its 4 Series sprayers.

In this video, John Deere product manager Jason Beuligmann explains that carbon fibre booms made by the company have been working in fields in Brazil and South America for a couple of years. John Deere is updating and testing those designs for a potential commercial launch in North America some time in the future.

“We see a lot of areas where this could be useful across our portfolio, but for now, it’s just going to be used in sprayers,” explains Beuligmann. “Carbon fibre brings a lot of good properties to the sprayer, which is why we’ve really looked at it.” With a high strength-to-weight ratio, booms can be made much lighter. The weight reduction also allows for expanded, wider booms without adding much weight to the sprayer.

Beuligmann also notes that carbon fibre is very resistant to rust and corrosion associated with herbicides, chemicals and liquid fertilizers like UAN. “It’s also very resilient and resistant to UV rays from the sun so year in, year out it’s not going to break down and lose its strength.”

The biggest challenge, however, is carbon fibre’s ability to absorb impact and its durability. “If you hit inside the breakaway on these steel booms, there’s a good chance they’re going to fold back and survive where carbon fibre is going to break,” Beuligmann admits.

John Deere is working on a solution to that problem. Beuligmann explains that the manufacturer has developed a repair kit that can be used to quickly repair a boom and bring it back to its original strength and make it even stronger “in some cases.”

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