An innovative mobile fertiliser unit – FERTIGATION MADE EASY
Bekmar Irrigation recently launched the Mobi-Fert, an innovative mobile fertiliser unit that their team has been developing over the past two years.
Technical Manager Ruan Pieterse stood at the helm of the project, which was the result of an ongoing effort on the part of Bekmar Irrigation to tailor bespoke agricultural solutions that allow forward-thinking growers to enjoy better yields, with less manual hassle and more time to focus on other aspects of their business.
According to Ruan, the Mobi-Fert is simple to use and maintain, but can make a big difference in the results that growers enjoy the field.
“The design itself is fairly simple, yet robust. It comprises a generator, control box, multi-stage pump, two solenoid valves and a fertilizer meter. The generator drives the pump and control box if a user does not have access to electrical power in the field, while the user-friendly control box features a manual side and auto side for mixing and dosing. The simple horizontal, multi-stage pump handles the fertiliser and does the dosing, while the valves control the fertiliser and the meter does the reading of the dosing,” he explains.
The Mobi-Fert can be mounted on a bakkie or tractor trailer so it’s level, and can handle just about any type of fertiliser, whether it be liquid or granular. It also features quite a strong nozzle, which means that it presses the fertiliser to the sides and straight towards the front, which facilitates a very effective round mixing pattern.
There are currently two different units available, the Echo 1, and the Mobi-Fert. The Echo 1 is a more basic model, while the Mobi-Fert features modifications and functionality that was included in the overall design based on feedback from Bekmar clientele who tested the first models on their farms.
One big difference between the two units is that the more advanced Mobi-Fert allows for uploading and downloading of fertilising schedules and data by means of a waterproof USB port.
“Essentially a grower can sit down at home in the evening and draw up the fertiliser schedule for the whole day ahead, save it to their USB drive and load it onto the Mobi-Fert in the morning, which will then have access to all the work he did the evening before,” Ruan explains. “We did this to make the whole process easier and to save the user a lot of time since they don’t have to stand around in the field, punching numbers onto the screen.”
This function is also safeguarded with password protection, so only the person with the password can make changes on the machine in the field. A general worker can simply choose the tap to which they wish to connect on the screen and push the ‘go’ button. They will be able to see what is happening on the screen, but without the password they can’t make any changes.
“Then, at the end of the day when all the fertiliser has been applied, the grower can offload the day’s data to their USB drive, save it on their computer to address GLOBAL GAP which signifies the safety and sustainability of their produce and paves the way for increased consumer and customer confidence in their product safety and quality,” says Ruan.
“If there is a software update or change to be made, this can also be done via the USB port – we simply share it with the grower via email, they download it to their computer, load it on the drive and take it to the unit, which will then facilitate the download.”
The other difference between the Echo 1 and the Mobi-Fert is that the more advanced unit allows for proportional dosing. “Both units will save you a lot of time in the field,” explains Ruan. “When you are standing at your water top-up point where you add your fertiliser, you can simply turn the selector to manual and without any dosing occuring your unit will start mixing the fertiliser. So you can essentially mix the fertiliser while you’re filling up your tank before you reach your block and you don’t lose any time.
“We have also added a stainless-steel strainer that we put in the tank inlet where the dry fertilizer is poured into, the clean water dissolves the fertilizer in the strainer. The strainer helps to prevent any dirt or big particles to end up in the tank, everything that ends up in the tank is already constituted and ready for use.”
But what about dosing? Do you have different options? This is yet another thing the Bekmar team took into account. “At each block tap you normally find quick-coupling fittings(nylomatics) Both of our units have a single outlet, which comes with a delivery hose that attaches to this nylomatic so the unit can dose into the tap,” Ruan explains. “The Echo 1 allows you to tell the unit how much fertiliser you want to dump onto the line (e.g. 500L). The Mobi-Fert also allow for this approach, but gives you the additional option of dosing proportionally (e.g. I want to add 20L fertiliser over a period of an hour). It will then do the necessary calculations and dose according to these instructions.”
Both the Echo 1 and the Mobi-Fert are suitable for use with fertiliser and chemicals on just about any crop you can imagine. It’s already been used with great success on avos, citrus, macadamias, butternuts and cabbage. “It’s a great option for any grower who wants to simplify the dosing procedure in a cost-effective way. Because it’s mobile, you can move it around and use it on more than one farm, which makes it very flexible,” says Ruan.
“Additionally, Bekmar can tailor each unit according to the preferences of the client – if there is a particular generator they want, we can include it. Or if they don’t like a horizontal pump, we can install it vertically. It takes around four days for our team to assemble a unit from scratch, which means we can have a customised Mobi-Fert ready within a week from ordering.”
To find out more about the Mobi-Fert, get in touch with the Bekmar Irrigation team to schedule a demo today.