It takes a lot to impress veteran ag pilot Lary Graf, but the innovative technology of the CapstanAG™ SwathPRO spray system may have just done that. “They’ve solved my problems without creating new ones,” Graf says.
Increased productivity, and application accuracy are just a few of the perks of the SwathPRO system. Perhaps the biggest game changer for Graf may be its superior drift mitigation and crosswind compensation controlled right from the cockpit.
Graf flies for Evergreen Flying Service, located in Rayville, Louisiana. He has been beta-testing the SwathPRO system for the last five seasons covering a cumulative 900,000 acres using the system on an Air Tractor AT-802A.
“About five years ago at the NAAA convention in Reno, I visited with CapstanAG representatives,” he recalls. “They were looking for pilots to beta-test a new spray boom system.” Graf was selected as one of the beta test pilots over the course of the testing, he took note of several benefits that made his aerial application more efficient and productive.
“With our old [spray boom] system, I would get out of the airplane nearly every load and mess with my nozzles a little bit to adjust for changing wind conditions, temperature, or humidity,” Graf said. “I was constantly trying to get the perfect setup for the airplane for the job I was doing at that time. This system allows me to do all that right from the cockpit and never get out of the airplane.”
However, the precision of the system has perhaps been the game changer for him. “The biggest term in my vocabulary is ‘droplet spectrum control.’ That’s what I was looking to do and that is exactly what this system does for me,” he says. “I can control the droplet size that I want for each individual job.”
“The weather became less of a factor for me,” he adds. “Prior to using the SwathPRO system, if the wind got up on me I’d have to change nozzles and swath widths. I’d have to change how I had my SATLOC set up. I’d have to move to a different side of the field.”
The SwathPRO system has changed all of that.
“By controlling that droplet spectrum, I could get closer. I didn’t have to worry about drift as much. It made the airplane so much more productive and planning my day so much easier,” he reports.
SwathPRO ProMaker profile generating software helps him build in-flight selectable profiles that can range from using full boom, to using just straight streams, to using a combination of nozzles to get the droplet spectrum, and rate needed for the job.
“ProMaker is the planning part of the system,” Graf says. “I probably do more planning ahead now, but it saves me time once I get in the cockpit. I can plan what jobs I have for the day and make them full loads even if one job requires half a load and then another job requires another. I can tie a lot of that together now.”
Another nice advantage to the SwathPRO booms is the spray tips. “We’ve gone from using $100 tips to using $2 pressure washer tips. And are getting a better droplet spectrum with those cheaper tips,” he adds. “It’s a small benefit, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s definitely something worth mentioning.”
Another benefit is increased safety for the ground crew. “My ground crew doesn’t have to go find gloves to adjust spray nozzles.” With the SwathPRO system that adjustability is done with the in-cockpit SwathPRO controller. “I can control how much a tip puts out, or if it sprays at all.”
Graf acknowledges that committing to a new spray boom system can be intimidating, but the SwathPRO results and cost-effectiveness are worth it.
“I’ve heard people talk about it having ‘lots of moving parts, lots of wires,’ but in the last two years we’ve spayed 350,000 acres and I’ve had zero issues. The only time the booms came off the airplane was to put a spreader on.”
Graf added that running your operation as efficiently as possible is the key to a healthy bottom line. “With this economy, with fuel prices skyrocketing, insurance rates climbing… the per-hour operation of an ag airplane goes through the roof. So, every hour that prop is turning, if you’re not productive, it’s killing your bottom line.” Graf says the SwathPRO helps him get the most productivity from every flight.
“I’m a huge advocate of these booms. They have made my life easier. They have made this airplane way more productive — by being able to adjust on the fly, not having to change things once I have a full load or bring a load back to the airport. I never bring a full load back to the airport anymore. Leave with the airplane loaded. It saves you money every time.”
The CapstanAG SwathPRO® individually optimized nozzle spray boom system revolutionizes how you get the job done. To learn more, contact your Air Tractor dealer, or visit www.AirTractor.com/SwathPRO.