I'm keeping my fields clean

No way I'm going back

Interview with Pieter van Leeuwen Boomkamp

About Pieter

Pieter is running his farm right next to the Betuwe, a protected nature park in the Netherlands. He farms over 87 different fields covering a total of 140 hectares. “I’m farming a few large fields, but mostly postage stamps”.

My fields have corners and I have lots of turns. I thought ‘this should be done differently”. I have been looking for a good spray system for a while, but no one could convince me. 

LeapBox customer Pieter

“It is user friendly and running smoothly, I don’t want to go back!”.

Now, it is his second season and sprayed over 3000 hectares with LeapBox. Partially based on task maps using soil scans and drone data, but also regular blanket spraying.

Pieter Potato

Farm Facts van Leeuwen Boomkamp

LeapBox since spring 2021
Farmer / Farms: 140 ha
Sprays: 700 – 800 ha per year
Sprayer: Trailed
Brand: Fendt Rogator
Boom: 36 meters / 50cm nozzle spacing
Crops: Starch potatoes, onions, sugar beets, corn, cereals, and some grass.
Soil: Sand

Location: Nijkerk, the Netherlands

Why did you choose for LeapBox?

My fields are curvy and I was really fed up with over- and underdosing. Spraying can be done so much better. 

Then Peter (founder BBLeap) called and visited. I learned about LeapBox and that it can spray where and how much you actually want. Honestly, at first, it sounded too good to be true. After our meeting, I was fully confident. 

My new trailed Fendt sprayer with LeapBox arrived in the spring of 2021. So far, I have sprayed over 3000 hectares and everything that I was promised, has come true.

Fendt tractor and sprayer
Van Leeuwen Boomkamp potatoes

Spray quality

Keeping the potatoes clean

Keeping your potato fields clean can be a challenge. Usually, it starts in weaker areas. Like an outer corner, or at the headlands. Because the distribution is now perfectly equal at any spot in the field, every single crop is evenly protected. I have kept my fields clean from phytophthora this year!

“This year I have kept my fields clean. Now, I am really in control.“

LeapBox adjusts the volume to speed. 

I used to set a volume that I wanted to spray, but that was linked to the desired driving speed. So, when I was accelerating or slowing down the volume remained the same. Otherwise, the droplets would not be good.

LeapBox adjusts the volume to speed. It doesn’t matter If I drive 1km/h, 5km/h, or 8km/h the volume adjusts instantly accordingly, the droplet size is correct and the distribution is right. Now everything goes automatically, I have so much more time to look around, make sure my booms don’t get tight up in fence wiring and observe my crop. 

I used to be stressed about having a good distribution, especially in the corners. The chances of getting mold in the corners are high. You want to be assured of the coverage that you need. Now I can trust LeapBox that I have perfect coverage. No overdoses, and no weak spots.

leapfarmer in controll

Do you notice a difference in the corners?

Yes, one of my fields has lots of corners. Occasionally phytophthora would show up. This season, since I am working with LeapBox I have kept it clean. That’s definitely the work of better and even coverage.

Hurting the onions 

Onions are part of my crop rotation. A wonderful crop, but onions get hurt so easily. Just the smallest overdose, and they are really damaged. Previously there was always a spot I overtreated unintentionally. 

With LeapBox I don’t need to overapply anymore or increase the dose just to be sure. I know what I spray, at all places.

spraying onions
Full control your sprayer

Get annoyed

When you move into a corner you notice that your boom is hanging still for a moment. Later in the season, the crops would lay flat exactly on that spot. You are losing your crop and the inner corners and the outer corners are getting too little. That’s really annoying to me!

How do you experience spraying with LeapBox?

You get used to it quickly. It’s also not that difficult, you don’t need to have an academic degree for it, haha! I mean it’s pretty straightforward. You just enter the l/ha and your preferred droplet size and you are ready to go. It’s high-tech but easier to use.

amazone ux sprayer
Haaijer tractor

Generation proof

At first, we were a little bit concerned. LeapBox is a high-tech system that you’re installing on your 10 years old sprayer. However, that turned out very well. I did the first 4 – 5 spray rounds, but then my father took over. He’s now doing most of the applications and is fully comfortable with it. Just like it used to be. Sometimes he lets me get a turn as well.

Nozzles

The first time you see the system spraying it looks and sounds different. I mean, spray with a coarse 08 nozzle? We haven’t done that before and then you start to spray agents you used to spray with a 025 nozzle. That’s quite a difference. The spray quality is not affected by it because of the pressure and electric valves it’s much better! A bonus to it is that your nozzles don’t get clogged anymore.

user interface leapbox
Module sprayer

Modular

LeapBox is a modular system. In the future, we can easily upgrade with new features and developments. Also, if I want to change my nozzle spacing from 50cm to 25cm it would be possible. Of course, it will be a little bit of work, but it’s possible.

Image: module that controls the valves. LeapBox can control 250 spraying positions.

René Haaijer’s experience at a glance

  • Better spray quality
  • Higher capacity
  • Always perfect pressure
  • Easy to use
  • No clogged nozzles
  • Work with task maps
  • Corner compensation
  • Ready for the future
LeapFarmer controll
field soil

Why do you want to spray variable rates?

Our soil

We farm on variegated soil with sand, sand with peat, and loam. We are on the low side of variation. It is light sandy soil, not heavy soil or clay. The weed pressure is high. We have a lot of sandy ‘hills’ with low humus levels. Crops are having a hard time growing there, leaving a lot of space for weeds to grow. Due to intense cultivation, it wasn’t always possible to keep it clean, and honestly, we don’t have the products to our availability either.

Is this why you want to farm on plant level?

Yes, that’s exactly why! You don’t want to bother the less vital crops. You want to bother them as little as possible. At places with high humus levels, where a strong and vital crop grows along with a high weed pressure I want to apply a little more.

onions in a field
Haaijer trailed sprayer

Future plans

Real-time “tile size” spraying

We want to spray real-time at “tile size” level. We only want to hit the volunteer plants and leave the crop alone. We are specifically looking forward to spraying volunteer potatoes in onions and in sugar beets.

Modular & future ready

The system is ready to meet new legislation. LeapBox is a modular system and if I want I can always upgrade the system to 25cm nozzle distance. It would be a bit of work, but it’s possible. In the future, I have the possibility to extend the system with new technologies such as a cameras and a direct injection. Eventually, I expect a 100% drift reduction from this system. That doesn’t need to be next year, but I’m sure it will come.

Variable rates

Our initial focus is on reallocating herbicides at variable rates based on soil data. In the first season, the base remained at spraying 100%. So, if I want to spray a liter of agent, we will still spray that on average. We were reallocating by varying between 80 – 120%. In the spots where we don’t need it, we spray 80% and where we can use a little extra 120%. The average remained 100%.

Tweaking with buttons

This year we are taking it a step further by varying between 60 – 130%. Eventually, we want to reduce the liquid we use and I am sure we can. For now, we focus on getting it at the right place at different rates.

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