Jerald Ryerson got tired of renting a sidedressing machine from the local co-op. As the Ames, IA, no-till grower put it: “Two years of rental fees would pay for building my own equipment and allow me to apply fertilizer when I wanted.”

So two years ago, he decided it was time to take action and build his own applicator. He started by buying a 7100 John Deere toolbar. Cost ran about $1,500. To that, he added 11 individual row units modified from Hiniker ridge movers, originally designed for ridge-till operations. “They came with gauge wheels, but I took them off because it runs better with-out them,” Ryerson says. Each row unit has individual down pressure and the disks have depth-control wheels on the sides.

What makes the shop-built applicator unique, however, is that it mounts on the front of his Fendt 818 tractor's three-point hitch. “I really like the front mount because it's easy to see and it corners nicely,” he says. Behind it, he pulls his 1,000-gal. sprayer where he carries 32% nitrogen.

“The system is controlled by Ag Leader's Insight, which logs the applications by field and allows me to change rates on the go,” Ryerson says.

So far, he's used the sidedressing tool — with a total cost of $5,000 — on about 1,000 acres. Ryerson grows 550 corn and 550 soybean acres.