Many were surprised by John Deere’s announcement last spring that it had acquired majority ownership of Hagie Manufacturing Co., a self-propelled sprayer manufacturer based in Clarion, IA. The company is known for its front-mounted boom sprayers and de-tasselers. In fact, Hagie has a rich application-focused history and is recognized for introducing the world’s first self-propelled sprayer in 1947. With Deere’s acquisition, Hagie’s product line is likely to continue to develop and become more popular among producers.
Among Hagie’s defining characteristics has been the ability to innovate, create custom machines, and bring new products to market very quickly; all traditions the company hopes to continue under Deere’s watch. Many customers with specific application needs have worked with Hagie because they could create fully-customized machines capable of accomplishing a specific need. Examples include adding dry product tanks for inter-seeding cover crops in late-season corn, adding multiple product tanks, and developing nutrient side-dressing systems.
Hagie has a strong line of sprayers, ranging from the smaller and lighter DTS10 sprayer with a 1,000-gallon capacity up to the STS16 model, which has a capacity of 1,600 gallons. The sprayers boast crop clearance up to 76 inches, near perfect front to back weight distribution, and all-wheel steering. These features allow producers the ability to comfortably conduct field operations later in the season while also minimizing crop damage and soil compaction.
As an organization that prides themselves on innovation, Hagie recently announced a very unique tank option for its sprayers: a dual product tank. This is not to be confused with the dual tank system featured on the DTS models. The dual product tank is a new single tank with a partition that allows two different products to be applied at the same time. A system like this could be useful in minimizing the amount of passes required to apply products such as herbicides, fungicides, or in-season nitrogen fertilizers.
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Rachel Halbach, an agronomist with Hagie, mentioned that when they first started experimenting with a custom dual product system it was “pretty cumbersome. We had two of everything…two valves, two tanks, two complete systems.”
But the design evolved over time. Halbach sees the biggest application for the system in combination with a product such as 360 Yield Center’s Y-drops. Interestingly, John Deere announced an allied agreement with 360 Yield Center shortly after acquiring a majority of Hagie. With Y-drops, a grower could conceivably apply late-season nitrogen fertilizer while also using the undercover system mounted on the assembly to spray a fungicide into the canopy.
“Really, it’s eliminating an additional application cost,” Halbach says. One concern expressed to her by farmers is the increasing cost of doing business, such as rising equipment, nutrient, and labor costs. Farmers are looking for ways to cut things out of their budgets, “like cutting two passes down to one,” she continued.
As an agronomist with Hagie, Halbach is also very interested in the agronomics of technology, such as the dual product tanks. When they first began developing prototypes, they tested the machines on land owned by Alan Hagie, president and CEO. At the farm they did yield comparisons and monitored machine performance. The results have been promising, but Halbach also has a word of caution for people looking to apply multiple products at the same time, which is that optimal application dates for products like nitrogen fertilizer and fungicides might not align perfectly. She mentioned that many try to apply N fertilizers between V8 to V12 when N demand is high, “but if you put your fungicide on at that time you might be missing out on residual later in the season when you really need that fungicide there.”
In addition to the dual product tanks, Halbach mentions that, “we’re looking to integrate John Deere technology into the machine as quickly as possible,” a point that will please many growers. In fact, much of the John Deere technology can already be found on machines coming out of the factory, such as 2630 displays, StarFire 6000 receivers, AutoTrac, and the new Rate Controller 2000.
“Just the ability to have the 2630 display in the cab, the same display that they have in their tractor or combine, will make growers a lot more comfortable and enhance operator performance,” Halbach says.
Some future technology that could find its way over to Hagie machines are John Deere’s AutoTrac Vision and RowSense systems for better guidance through early and late-season applications, and the new ExactApply nozzle system that was released this year. These additions would provide customers interested in a high-clearance front-mounted boom sprayer the same advanced technologies available on all other John Deere sprayers.
In the past, one of the largest things that may have prevented a customer from purchasing a Hagie sprayer was the smaller size of the company and lack of support outside of the Midwest. With John Deere’s acquisition, customers can now look forward to working with an established network of dealers throughout the country that can stock parts, provide product support, and have highly trained technicians available for servicing equipment.