When it comes to sidedressing fertilizer, it's all about speed for Jerry Zubke, Milbank, SD. That's what led him to build a 30-in., 24-row sidedress applicator that's a whopping 60 ft. wide.

“We always had a problem with sidedressing because we couldn't do it fast enough. Now we can,” says Zubke.

He took two 16-row IH 183 cultivator bars (7-in. × 7-in. toolbars) to start the project. The toolbars ran about $3,000. The first stage was building a 20-ft. section that attaches to his tractor's rear three-point hitch. On each end of that toolbar, he added two 10-ft. folding sections, each hinged to the other. When each of those wings unfolds, it adds 20 ft. to both ends of the main 20-ft. bar for a final width of 60 ft.

To offer variable-rate nitrogen application, he used a Rawson drive off an old corn planter. He also added a lift-assist wheel from an old Buffalo cultivator to the rear for depth control — cost of about $900.

Openers came from his 24-row strip-till machine. “I take them off the strip-tiller and use them on the sidedresser so I get double duty out of them,” Zubke says.

He also uses a high-volume, twin-piston pump. “It's bigger so I could maintain field speed,” he says. Typically, he now runs at 7.5 mph. Before, he was at about 5.5 mph.

At most, Zubke says he's got about $7,500 into the machine. “But if I'd had to buy the openers, it would probably have run about $15,000,” he says.

In addition, he pulls a 1,600-gal. Redball tank that can handle 60 acres/fill. “The front and back wheels on the sprayer turn at the same radius so I don't run down corn when I'm sidedressing,” he adds.