Is the consolidation of agribusiness a good thing? Custom applicators might be convinced after they see the redesigned Case IH SPX 4260 self-propelled sprayer.

The industry's latest Class IV sprayer model incorporates several “cross-engineered” designs resulting from acquisitions, mergers and joint ventures: high-visibility cab from the STX Series Steiger 4-wd tractor line; control panel derived from the Axial-flow combine; electronic component designs borrowed from air-seeder technology; turn-signal mechanism from the Maxxum tractor; and the Combo-rate nozzle body system from Wilger Industries.

I had the opportunity to preview and test-drive the newest Patriot model in mid-June with about a dozen other ag editors at the Case Tyler Business Unit (formerly Tyler Manufacturing) in Benson, Minn. After a good look, you have to believe Case IH engineers have created a solid package of ergonomic and convenience features to really slow overtime fatigue, plus end-to-end mechanical muscle, capacity and electronic precision for better efficiency and ROI potential.

“When Tyler Industries became a part of Case Corporation in 1998, it gave us the chance to leverage a lot of engineering technology and bring something to the market that a smaller company couldn't do alone,” says Irv Aal, general manager, sprayer business unit, CNH Global (formed in 1999 when Case and New Holland merged).

The original Model 4260 sprayer was introduced by Tyler for the 1999 season. Since then, focus groups and other input provided a broad blueprint to Case IH engineers for modifying the machine, adds sales and marketing manager Warren Thompson. “We looked at ergonomics and agronomics and everything in between and are convinced we've taken a proven product to a new level,” he says.

Front view. Improvements start here. Curved glass, 67 square feet in all, surrounds the Surveyor cab. A trio of halogen headlights illuminate a half-mile ahead, while a high-density discharge light casts a beam equivalent to an aircraft landing light. Convenience lights were added to boost visibility for night spraying. The new hydraulic, corrugated, slip-resistant aluminum ladder helps keep mud outside.

Side view. You'll like the user-friendly service center. From one left-side ground-level position, you can fill or transfer product to the chemical tank, rinse tank and foam tank. No more having to climb on top or duck under or around the sprayer to reach controls. Easy-to-read instructions are mounted on the door of the adjacent operator's locker, a new feature that doubles as a toolbox and storage area for jugs, goggles, gloves, etc.

Rear view. Kneeling behind the 4260 gives you a better grasp of the machine's 52-inch ground clearance and four-wheel independent trailing link suspension. Peer over the top of the 12.3-foot machine for a look at the poly foam tank and rinse tank, repositioned for visibility. The new 4260 model retains an 8.3-liter, 260-hp engine, rated at 825 foot-pounds of torque.

Inside view. “Cockpit” comes to mind as you settle into the Optima air-ride seat and grab the tilt/telescoping steering wheel. All operating controls are easy to reach on your right, while eye-level digital LED gauges signal engine functions. Thanks to a new heavy-duty air filter, the cab exceeds ASAE S525 worker safety standards for pesticide filtration, so less personal protection equipment is required inside.

Plumbing view. Opting for the Combo-Rate nozzle body system gives you 400 percent greater flow through a single body compared to conventional nozzle bodies, or you can switch among up to three nozzles at each boom location, explains engineering manager Andy Zurn. New three-inch-diameter plumbing, with flanged fittings, also improves reliability. The optional AIM (Ag Information Manager) system lets you control droplet size and off-target drift.

“We'll start shipping demo machines immediately after our dealer introduction on July 16, and our 11 U.S. distributors will be demonstrating the new 4260 to potential customers soon after that,” Thompson said. Early-order incentive discounts are available. Thompson anticipates custom applicators will account for 75 percent of 4260 purchases. Price: $195,000; with AIM and Combo-Rate nozzle package, $204,000 (90-ft. boom). Contact: Case Tyler Business Unit, 260 Hwy. 12 S.E., Benson, MN 56215, 800-328-9128, or click on www.caseih.com.