Specialty crops need specialty equipment.
Enter the Mazzotti sprayer, an Italian-built, self-propelled sprayer.
Bryan Feemster, RDO Product Specialist Supervisor based in Salinas, CA joins this week’s episode to share more about the technology of this sprayer and how it proves beneficial to growers in the California Coast and beyond.
Learn more about sprayer solutions from the team of experts at RDO. Visit our website for more information.
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Catch the full transcript here:
Tony Kramer: Hi. I'm Tony Kramer with RDO Equipment Company. Welcome back to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 147.
Today, we are going to be talking about Mazzotti sprayers.
I'm really excited to bring back Bryan Feemster who is a product specialist supervisor with RDO Equipment Company. We had Bryan on back in, I believe it was 2019, talking about lettuce thinners. That's one of the things that I love bringing you on the show, Bryan, because you guys are in a very unique market out there in the Central California Coast. You've got a lot of produce, a lot of things like that so this fits right in with that unique market. Before we get started and dive into the show, why don't you remind our listeners a little bit about who you are, how you got involved in the industry.
Bryan Feemster: Thank you, Tony, for having me on again. I've been with RDO since 2012. I started off as an account manager in sales and quickly found that there was a great need for technology in our area and the development in our area. Transitioned over to being a product specialist supervisor. As you mentioned, our area is very unique in the country with the crops that we deal with and the size of our fields. Technology adoption has been difficult because not a lot of companies out there at that time had technology that fit our market because it's such a niche market. I came in as a product specialist supervisor and worked to help develop the department on the Central Coast. We've, successfully, been growing this now ever since.
Tony: Like you said, your unique market out there. Very small field sizes, not a lot of technology. I know a lot of our listeners here in the podcast are more of a coarse grain, small grain type, corn, soybean, wheat, that type of stuff. I don't know that we have a lot of listeners in the specialty crop market, a lot of the produce. You're thinking broccoli and lettuce and all that type of stuff.
It's really cool to bring in your side of things from the Central Coast and what you guys do out there. That's why I wanted to bring you on for this episode, Bryan. Mazzotti sprayers. It's a unique piece of equipment that really fits the market where you're at. Let's talk about Mazzotti sprayers. Where they come from, what they do and how they fill a need for you guys in your markets. First off, Bryan, just let us know a little bit what are Mazzotti sprayers?
Bryan: Sure. A Mazzotti sprayer is a Italian-built self-propelled sprayer. Basically, this particular model that we have in our market on the Coast and down in the desert is their smallest sprayer out there. Basically, the width of it is about eight feet. Its length is about 16 feet long and it has a boom width of 62 feet wide. With our fields, as we mentioned, they're very small in comparison to other areas of the country, the corn and soybean areas. We're typically averaging about 15-acre fields, so we need that compact sprayer to be able to make the turns and whatnot in those fields.
Our headlands are also very narrow, so trying to make a turn onto the next path can be quite challenging. With the Mazzotti sprayer, like I said, it's a compact self-propelled sprayer. Another big factor is weight and with the weight of this machine, it's distributed perfectly to where it's a 50-50 weight distribution from the front to the back. Typically, in our market, growers and custom applicators build their own spray rigs, where that weight distribution is probably more in the vicinity of 70-30/60-40 so you get a lot more compaction with the way they've been doing things.
With this sprayer, with the 50-50 weight distribution, it allows for less compaction through the field. On top of that, these machines come with four-wheel steering which gives these turning radius, a lot shorter, allowing our operators to be able to make those maneuvers and next passes a lot easier. Along with that, the sprayer comes with an air-assist system, so while they're spraying, they have an air curtain blowing air and they can position it forward or backwards.
When they position the airflow forwards, it agitates the crop, so it opens up those leaves on, say, the broccoli or the lettuce to allow the product to get down inside where it really needs to reach as well as under the canopy, and really circulates that product around for better coverage. The air system also-- What is great is, you can turn it backwards, so it starts blowing the air behind the machine in times when it might have a little bit of wind outside for drift. What it does is creates an air curtain to block that spray and knock it down as it's going through the field. It reduces drift tremendously. What's a great benefit is, you have different axle options.
You have it anywhere from a manual axle, where you can space it out with three positions by jacking up the sprayer and moving the axles out, all the way to their higher-end, more utilized, specialty axle that they created for us, which allows the tread spacing to go from 72 inches to 120 inches while the operator just sits in the cab and tells the system what spacing it wants. For a custom applicator out there that's doing multiple crops, different bed sizes, this is a great opportunity for them where they can get into any field, any bed size. It takes, literally, two to five minutes to move those axles out and get into the field.
Tony: Really big picture here, Bryan. The first thing you talked about was size. You guys deal with those 10 to 15-acre fields, very small fields in terms of general agriculture, where here in the Red River Valley by Fargo, we're dealing with 160-acre fields, 200-acre fields. Very large pieces of land compared to what you guys deal with. You talk about the size. John Deere offers the R4023, which is the smallest sprayer they get, but that still is a much larger sprayer than what you guys need for your market. Deere saw this as an opportunity. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Mazzotti Sprayers have been around for a while, but they just became under ownership with John Deere back in, I think it was 2017 is when John Deere bought them? Is that correct?
Bryan: That's correct. John Deere had sent a team out to RDO here on the Central Coast to learn and understand our special market out here because we have talked to them numerous times about the need for more specialized equipment for our area because, like you said, those sprayers that they currently have, even the smallest one, does not fit our market. They came out and we gave them a tour. A few years later they brought myself along with a team from RDO out to Italy to talk to them about their sprayer, this Mazzotti sprayer, and get feedback on what was needed for our market.
Deere, like you said, had purchased them in 2017 and with that transaction, they implemented one, the Deere engine into this machine. Now we're utilizing a Deere engine where all of our RDO locations, service departments can work on and log into those engines. Mazzotti did a great job of listening to what our needs were out here by making changes to their machine that would fit in our market. Once it was released, and we brought it out to the States, we've been taking it out and it's just been well received by everybody.
Tony: That's really awesome to hear that they allowed us as RDO Equipment to be involved in that conversation and talk about the market that you guys deal with. Not only on the Central Coast there, but you also mentioned some of our teammates down in the Yuma, Arizona area, in the desert down there, they've also got a very unique market. You talked about, Mazzotti already had these sprayers but John Deere wanted to make some changes to best fit your specialty crop market, that produce food market. I know they took that opportunity to integrate a bunch of John Deere technology that you would see in a 4 Series sprayer or other John Deere equipment. Let's talk real briefly about the John Deere technology that's being utilized in these Mazzotti sprayers.
Bryan: Absolutely. On top of the changes they made physically to the machine to fit our market, Deere also went in and added their technology into these machines. One of the things they brought in was the John Deere integrated AutoTrac system. Now, we're running a John Deere StarFire receiver. We're running a 4640 display so the operators can run RTK if they wish with the guidance lines. They also added in the JDLink MTG into the tractor, which now allows the customer to transfer data wirelessly to and from the machine into the John Deere Operations Center so they can now collect all the data, the documentation, the mapping, and everything they need to make those agronomic decisions.
They also incorporated a variable rate control system that works with John Deere and the Operations Center. They can put in prescriptions into a field and the operator just goes out, starts the spray system, and allows the rates to be controlled by the rate controller. We also have the options to turn on section control and create zones in the field to be able to spray different rates throughout that field.
Tony: Really, Bryan, this sprayer, aside from it saying Mazzotti on the side, this fits right into a John Deere customer's portfolio. They don't have to learn other pieces. They don't have to learn other technology. It's GreenStar technology. You talked about the JDLink being able to have machine information and wirelessly transferring your agronomic data. It's all right there because of the technology John Deere integrated into these machines.
It sounds like an awesome fit for that customer in the specialty crop market that's already running John Deere tractors and, maybe, some other John Deere equipment. Now, you guys have had these sprayers out on the Central Coast, in the desert southwest down there. I know you've been demoing some stuff, you've got some sales out there. Why don't you tell us one of your success stories that, at the end of the day, it just put a smile on your face and made you feel good?
Bryan: Sure. One of the success stories that we had was with a custom applicator and a grower who wanted to demo the machine to see what it could do. In this particular situation, the grower produces Brussels sprouts. With Brussels sprouts, it's a tall crop and they have a worm infestation that gets down way below the canopy on the stalk area. They've been having a tough time getting rid of these worms with the current solutions that they had, where they were using another type of sprayer that had what's called drop nozzles.
They're nozzles that are about 18 inches long, that has two different spray nozzles that allow those nozzles to be lowered to the soil to run alongside the crop to try and spray underneath to get those worms. We ran their machine on one part of the field, putting test strips out, and we ran the Mazzotti in another part of the field with test strips and using the air system on the Mazzotti. After running this, we pulled the test strips. Their PCA looked at them and found that the Mazzotti air system did a way better job than what they've been doing traditionally with the drop nozzles.
Right there, on the spot, they decided that they were going to purchase the Mazzotti sprayer. What puts a smile on my face is the fact that I was the one that had to drive the Mazzotti sprayer. I am not an operator. It was the first time of me driving that sprayer in the field. I was able to control that machine so easily that they realized their operators would not have one issue running that machine as well. I say that jokingly but it's so true. They've made the sprayer so well that anybody can operate it. It just does the best job on the market for our areas.
Tony: It's awesome. In your story, not only was it a win, the customer really liked what happened with the demo and the agronomics of it, but they also saw, from an operator standpoint when you were in the captain's chair there and you were piloting that sprayer, it showed them the ease of use and the operator friendliness. Very cool story there. Bryan, if somebody wants to maybe demo one of these sprayers or they just want to talk to somebody and learn more about them, where can they go? Who can they talk to?
Bryan: Absolutely. I would say please reach out to your local RDO dealership. You can contact me as well via email at bfeemster which is F-E-E-M-S-T-E-R@rdoequipment.com. You can also look us up online at rdoequipment.com.
Tony: Awesome. I just want to thank you, Bryan, for taking the time today to sit down and talk a little bit more about Mazzotti sprayers. Like I said at the beginning of the show, you guys have a very unique market out there. I always enjoy bringing in information or sharing information that is capable of being utilized in those unique markets. Thanks for sharing your insight on this and coming on the show with me.
Bryan: Hey. Thank you, Tony. I really appreciate it. Thanks for having me on and look forward to, hopefully, joining you in the future.Tony: Thanks, again, for tuning in to another episode. If you have questions about the technology and products discussed or have ideas about future episodes, please leave them in the comments below. You can also subscribe to RDO's YouTube channel and be in the know about each episode or tune in on any streaming service. Thanks, again, for listening.