Turf Magazine - July, 2012

FEATURES

Field Test Report

New TurfEx Unit Saves Time, Product
By Jim Johnson

In business for more than 11 years, Johnson Seasonal Services, Inc. is a full-service company with a variety of commercial clients. Snow and ice management is our largest revenue stream, but we also offer lawn care and landscape maintenance, landscape design, irrigation and other services throughout the spring, summer and fall to accommodate any of our clients' needs.


The TurfEx RS7200 spreader/sprayer features a sharp turning radius and two-speed transmission, allowing it to zip around corners and obastacles while sthill applying the right amount of fertilizer to the lawn.
PHOTO COURTESY OF TURFEX.

Like so many other contractors, we have a million things to do, but never enough hours in the day. That's why we purchased a used self-propelled spreader/sprayer two seasons ago. We felt this type of machine would help us become more efficient with granular and liquid applications on our lawn maintenance accounts.

However, this year we put a new TurfEx RS7200 spreader/sprayer to use as a replacement for our previous unit.

Real-world workout

Since putting the RS7200 into service, we've been running it at least four days a week. Starting out, we used it for granular applications. Then, we switched to mostly liquid applications for broadleaf control. Eventually, we'll run granular again, but that won't be a problem because it's designed for spreading, spraying or for doing both at the same time. This is handy when we're spreading granular product and only have to spray a few spots where broadleaf weeds are present and saving product.

I've been impressed by the improvements the RS7200 had over the unit we previously used. It's exciting to see the latest developments of these machines, which are helping make our operation more efficient.

The first benefit is its speed and agility. Our operation also owns a couple utility tractors equipped with 10-foot boom sprayers, but even they can't complete liquid applications as quickly as the RS7200. With the spreader/sprayer's sharp turning radius and two-speed transmission, it maneuvers much better than the tractors, so we can zip around corners and obstacles while still applying the correct amount of fertilizer to the lawn.

Regardless of the tight turning radius and fast top speed, the RS7200 is safe and stable. Compared with our previous spreader/sprayer, its weight is closer to the ground, giving it a lower center of gravity. Plus, the independent front and rear braking systems provide great control. Whether a person is making a tight turn or backing off the trailer, you feel comfortable knowing you have two independent braking systems.

The operator also has maximum control over the application. Granular flows extremely well through the spreader, and it's easy to manage where the material goes. The spraying function offers similar precision. With its interchangeable nozzles and variable flow rate, the sprayer hits its targets and doesn't waste liquid. Also, the extended spreading and spraying widths of the RS7200 are wider than our previous machine, helping us save even more time on jobs.

Operator's in control

One of my favorite features about the unit is the ability to make adjustments, so the operator can fine-tune the machine according to specific applications. For instance, if a person is dealing with a severe case of broadleaf, he can quickly change the sprayer nozzle for maximum flow and spray width. On lawns with limited weeds, a more restrictive nozzle with a finer spray pattern can be used instead.

Of course, an operator must be educated to make smart decisions about nozzle usage and other practices to increase efficiency. Fortunately, the RS7200 is easy to use. Training can be completed within an hour, assuming the person being trained is a licensed applicator, and the worker has a comfortable knowledge of the machine.

Another advantage our operation has with the RS7200 is increased capacity. We typically fill the liquid tank with 16 gallons, even though it will hold up to 17. Additionally, the hopper holds up to 150 pounds, or 3 cubic feet, of material. This keeps our crew running longer between refills. We're especially pleased with the liquid capacity, since water sources are not always readily available on the jobsite.

Surprisingly, the added capacity doesn't negatively affect the machine's stability. Some of the properties we service have very steep slopes, but the unit handles the terrain well, even when the liquid tank and hopper are full. This is due to the tank's design, which holds the bulk of the liquid at the lowest point possible on the machine.

Since we began using the RS7200, we haven't experienced any downtime. There are few moving parts to cause a breakdown. One example of this is the mechanical pump, which provides more reliability than an electric.

Furthermore, there aren't any places on the machine for granular material to build up, helping to prevent corrosion issues. Because of this, it always seems to come back to the shop at the end of the day looking clean. We take a lot of pride in our equipment, so we appreciate the easy upkeep of the unit.

After experiencing firsthand the features of TurfEx's new RS7200, I look forward to seeing what the next advancements will be. The way the machine is set up now is great, but a hand-held spray wand would be a welcomed addition for spot-spraying applications.

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with the operation of the RS7200. Although every lawn maintenance contractor does things a little differently, I can see this machine being a great asset to many operations. It fits our needs very well because it helps serve our customers better, and it saves time and money. And that, of course, is the name of the game.

Jim Johnson is owner/operator of Johnson Seasonal Services, Auburn Hills, Mich.