Agitation Boats, Barges and GPS Technology Gain Popularity with Manure Applicators

May 8, 2014

2 Min Read
Agitation Boats, Barges and GPS Technology Gain Popularity with Manure Applicators

The Professional Nutrient Applicator’s Association of Wisconsin (PNAAW) and University of Wisconsin Extension have collected equipment information from all of the manure applicators in the state every year since 2001. Recent data reveals some interesting trends about the types of equipment being purchased and used by manure applicators.

The number of applicators based in Wisconsin is holding steady – a few firms are getting into the business, a few are selling out, but the number has held steady around 140 for the past few years.

Of those getting into the business for the first time, the two trends seen are those buying a portion of an existing firm (for example, the trucks or the dragline) and those getting in by buying a single truck.

The significant changes from 2011 to 2013 are in the area of agitation boats/barges and GPS systems. In 2011, there were 7 boats/barges in use in the state. As of Dec 31, the survey indicates there are 29 boats/barges operated by 20 different applicators. Four Wisconsin applicators are currently building and selling different styles of agitation boats.

Likewise, the survey indicates a 300% increase in firms using GPS on some or all of their equipment to produce as-applied maps and/or control application around setbacks.  A total of 19% of firms serving Wisconsin now have GPS on some or all of their equipment.

From an application equipment perspective, the move from tractor tankers to semis and straight trucks is continuing. Wisconsin-based applicators now operate 767 trucks, 377 of which are Semis (used either for application, transfer, or both). That is 43 more than 2012, and continues the long-term increasing trend. Straight trucks (174) and tractor-pulled tankers remained about the same as 2012.

A number of applicators reported concerns about larger equipment and weight limits, and between 2011 and 2013, the total number of tractor-pulled tankers above 6,000 gal. has declined from 143 to 118. The largest drops came in the 10,000-, 7,300- and 6,300-gal tractor tankers.

After three years of holding steady, the number of firms with draglines increased by more than 10% in 2013 (from 44 to 49), and so far in 2014, an additional 3 firms have already added dragline systems. Applicators added 14 miles of 6-in. hose (to 145 miles) and 10 miles of 8-in. hose (to 34 miles) last year.  There are 35 frac tanks in use in the state, unchanged from 2012 but a 250% increase since 2009.

Growth in solid-spreading equipment has stopped – equipment numbers held steady from 2012 to 2013, after climbing from 30 to 89 in the previous 4 years.

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