WO2019157094A1 - Sectional control belt - Google Patents

Sectional control belt Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2019157094A1
WO2019157094A1 PCT/US2019/016908 US2019016908W WO2019157094A1 WO 2019157094 A1 WO2019157094 A1 WO 2019157094A1 US 2019016908 W US2019016908 W US 2019016908W WO 2019157094 A1 WO2019157094 A1 WO 2019157094A1
Authority
WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
belt
driveshaft
section
sectional control
belt section
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2019/016908
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
David BATCHELLER
Barry Batcheller
Paul Johnson
Paul Nystuen
Peder Pederson
Original Assignee
Intelligent Agricultural Solutions Llc
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US201862626971P priority Critical
Priority to US62/626,971 priority
Application filed by Intelligent Agricultural Solutions Llc filed Critical Intelligent Agricultural Solutions Llc
Publication of WO2019157094A1 publication Critical patent/WO2019157094A1/en

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Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01CPLANTING; SOWING; FERTILISING
    • A01C21/00Methods of fertilizing, sowing or planting
    • A01C21/005Following a specific plan, e.g. pattern
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01CPLANTING; SOWING; FERTILISING
    • A01C15/00Fertiliser distributors
    • A01C15/04Fertiliser distributors using blowers
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01CPLANTING; SOWING; FERTILISING
    • A01C15/00Fertiliser distributors
    • A01C15/12Fertiliser distributors with movable parts of the receptacle
    • A01C15/122Fertiliser distributors with movable parts of the receptacle with moving floor parts
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01CPLANTING; SOWING; FERTILISING
    • A01C15/00Fertiliser distributors
    • A01C15/18Fertiliser distributors with endless chains, i.e. side transporting elements, e.g. auger or screw conveyors, swash plates
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01CPLANTING; SOWING; FERTILISING
    • A01C19/00Arrangements for driving working parts of fertilisers or seeders
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01CPLANTING; SOWING; FERTILISING
    • A01C7/00Sowing
    • A01C7/08Broadcast seeders; Seeders depositing seeds in rows
    • A01C7/088Sectional seeding

Abstract

A sectional control belt assembly (20) includes a plurality of belt subsections (34, 36) that are configured to be individually displaced. A sectional control module (32) selectively provides motive power to individual ones of the plurality of belt subsections such that each belt subsection is movable relative to the other belt subsections.

Description

SECTIONAL CONTROL BELT

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/626,971 filed February 6, 2018, and entitled“SECTIONAL CONTROL BELT,” the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

This disclosure relates generally to sectional control for agricultural spreaders. More specifically, this disclosure relates to sectional control belt devices for agricultural spreaders.

Agricultural spreader machines are available in different configurations, including self-propelled (referred to as a “floater”), pull-type, and 3 -point hitch mounted configurations. Agricultural spreaders are used to spread various particulate materials, such as fertilizer, onto fields. While fertilizer spreaders are discussed herein as an exemplar, it is understood that fertilizer is merely one example and that various other granular materials, such as seed, pellets, etc., can be applied. Fertilizers and plant nutrients are incorporated into dry particulate granules for application in soil. The particulate material is loaded into product tanks located on the fertilizer spreader machine. Some fertilizer spreader machines are equipped with at least two separate product tanks, e.g., a primary tank and a secondary tank, to allow the provision of fertilizer blends by dispensing and mixing particulate matter from each tank. As such, the operator can create a desired blend by controlling the ratio supplied from each tank.

To convey the particulate material from each tank, the fertilizer spreader machine utilizes a conveyor belt driven by a pulley and sprocket system. Each product bin typically includes two conveyor belts, with each conveyor belt providing material for distribution on one lateral side of the boom mechanism. The conveyor belts are mounted in parallel. The particulate material is drawn out of the tank onto the conveyor belt. The belt conveys the material and drops the material into a funnel box, which feeds the particulate material to tubes extending laterally away from the machine along the booms of a boom mechanism. A central fan is situated between the left and right sides of the boom mechanism. The fan aids in movement of product into the funnel box and through the tubes extending along the boom mechanism. Each funnel box includes a plurality of distribution points that feed the particulate material to the associated boom and support an even flow of product to each portion of the boom mechanism. As the product falls through the distribution points, the product is entrained in the airflow generated by the fan and is conveyed down the tubes along the boom until the particles are directed onto the soil by a deflector plate.

Due to asymmetrical field features and the typical working width of fertilizer spreaders, the boom mechanisms of the fertilizer spreader will at times overlap a part of the field on which particulate has already been applied. Overlap and duplicative application due to not being able to control flow to separate boom sections from the product tanks is inefficient and wasteful. Currently, the operator is only able to shut off the feed belt, effectively shutting off the flow of material to one lateral half of the machine. The inability to more closely refine control during product application can cause product waste and reduce yield, due to inefficient application and over application of product.

SUMMARY

According to one aspect of the disclosure, a sectional control belt includes a first belt section including a first sprocket and a first belt, the first sprocket configured to drive the first belt; a second belt section adjacent the first belt section, the second belt section including a second sprocket and a second belt, the second sprocket configured to drive the second belt; and a section control module configured to individually drive the first belt section and the second belt section.

According to another aspect of the disclosure, a sectional control system includes a product bin disposed on an agricultural spreader and configured to store particulate material; a boom extending laterally from the agricultural spreader; a first dispensing line and a second dispensing line extending along the boom, the first dispensing line providing the particulate material to a first dispensing point and the second dispensing line providing the particulate material to a second dispensing point; and a sectional control belt configured to convey the particulate material from the product bin to the first dispensing line and the second dispensing line. The sectional control belt includes a first belt section including a first sprocket and a first belt, the first sprocket configured to drive the first belt; a second belt section adjacent the first belt section, the second belt section including a second sprocket and a second belt, the second sprocket configured to drive the second belt; and a section control module configured to individually drive the first belt section and the second belt section. The first belt section is configured to provide the particulate material to the first dispensing line and the second belt section is configured to provide the particulate material to the second dispensing line. According to yet another aspect of the disclosure, a method of agricultural section control includes determining a location of a spreader machine in a field relative to treated portions of the field; generating a section control command based on the determined location of the spreader machine and providing the section control command to a sectional control module of a sectional control belt of the spreader machine; driving at least one belt section of the sectional control belt with the sectional control module based on the section control command; drawing material from a product bin of the spreader machine with the at least one belt section; and providing, by the at least one belt section, the material to a dispense line extending laterally from the spreader machine along a boom of the spreader machine.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a side schematic view of a floater.

FIG. 1B is a rear schematic view of a floater.

FIG. 1C is top schematic view of a floater.

FIG. 2A is an isometric view of a sectional control belt.

FIG. 2B is a cross-sectional view of a sectional control belt.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of another sectional control belt.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of another sectional control belt.

FIG. 5A is an isometric view of a sectional control belt.

FIG. 5B is a cross-sectional view of a sectional control belt.

FIG. 6A is an isometric view of a sectional control belt.

FIG. 6B is a cross-sectional view of a sectional control belt.

FIG. 7A is an isometric view of a sectional control belt.

FIG. 7B is a cross-sectional view of a sectional control belt.

FIG. 8 is a block diagram of a system controller.

FIG. 9 is a flow chart illustrating a method controlling particulate distribution.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1A is a side schematic view of floater 10. FIG. 1B is a rear schematic view of floater 10. FIG. 1C is a top schematic view of floater 10. FIGS. 1A-1C will be discussed together. Floater 10 includes cab 12, wheels 14, system controller 16, primary product bin l8a, secondary product bin l8b, sectional control belt assemblies 20, funnel box assemblies 22, distribution plates 24, booms 26, and fan 28. Each sectional control belt 20 includes conveyor 30 and sectional control module 32. Each conveyor 30 includes first belt section 34 and second belt section 36. Each funnel box assembly 22 includes upper funnel box 38 and lower funnel box 40. Each distribution plate 24 includes apertures 42. Each boom 26 includes distribution lines 44, and each distribution line 44 includes a distribution point 46. While floater 10 is shown as including primary product bin l8a and secondary product bin l8b, it is understood that floater 10 can include one product bin or more than two product bins to provide as many product bins as desired for a particular application. As indicated in FIG. 1C, floater 10 includes a first lateral side and a second lateral side. The first and second lateral sides are preferably mirror-images of each other. As such, a single lateral side will be discussed in detail.

Primary product bin l8a and secondary product bin l8b are configured to hold supplies of particulate material prior to application of the material in a field. The particulate material can be the same material in each of primary product bin l8a and secondary product bin l8b, or the particulate can vary between the bins. In some examples, the particulate material includes fertilizer or a blend of fertilizers, in other examples the particulate material includes seed. It is understood, however, that the particulate material can be any particulate material desired to be applied in a field.

Conveyors 30 extend parallel to each other through floater 10. Booms 26 extend laterally from floater 10 and receive the particulate material from primary product bin l8a and secondary product bin l8b. The conveyors 30 associated with primary product bin l8a draw particulate material from primary product bin l8a and provide the particulate material directly to lower funnel box 40. The conveyors 30 associated with secondary product bin l8b draw particulate material from secondary product bin l8b and provide the particulate material to upper funnel box 38, which funnels the particulate material to lower funnel box 40. In some examples, floater 10 can include a single product bin, and could thus include two sectional control belts 20, one for each lateral side of floater 10, conveying particulate to lower funnel boxes 40.

Lower funnel box 40 is mounted on distribution plate 24 and includes a plurality of individual chutes extending through lower funnel box 40. The chutes guide the particulate material through lower funnel box 40 to distribution plate 24. Each chute is associated with one aperture 42 through distribution plate 24. Each chute provides a flowpath for the particulate material to pass through lower funnel box 40 between sectional control belt 20 and boom 26. Upper funnel box 38 is mounted on lower funnel box 40. In some examples, upper funnel box 38 does not include any internal dividers, but it is understood that upper funnel box 38 can include internal dividers such that upper funnel box 38 also includes chutes, similar to lower funnel box 40. Upper funnel box 38 guides the particulate material received from conveyor 30 associated with secondary product bin 18b into lower funnel box 40.

Distribution lines 44 are tubes extending along booms 26 from apertures 42. Distribution lines 44 convey the particulate material to individual distribution points 46 along boom 26. The particulate exits distribution lines 44 at distribution points 46. Each distribution point can be an orifice or nozzle in distribution line 44 through which the particulate exits distribution line 44. Each distribution line 44 is associated with an individual aperture 42 through distribution plate 24, such that each distribution line 44 receives particulate material from a single associated aperture 42. As such, each distribution point 46 receives particulate material from a single aperture 42 through distribution plate 24.

Fan 28 is mounted on floater 10 and is configured to generate an airflow and provide the airflow to distribution lines 44. The airflow draws the particulate material into distribution lines 44 and drives the particulate material through distribution lines 44 to the distribution points. The airflow generated by fan 28 runs underneath the distribution plate through distribution lines 44, thereby creating a suction. The suction draws the particulate material through apertures 42 in distribution plate 24 and into distribution lines 44. The particulate is entrained in the airflow and conveyed though distribution lines 40 by the airflow. The particulate is carried to the distribution points, where the particulate material impinges on a plate that redirects the particulate to fall out of distribution line 44 and onto the soil.

Conveyor 30 includes first belt section 34 and second belt section 36. First belt section 34 and second belt section 36 are disposed parallel to each other and are configured to provide the particulate material for application on the same lateral side of floater 10. Each of first belt section 34 and second belt section 36 are associated with a separate subset of apertures 42, such that first belt section 34 provides particulate material for application at a first subset of distribution points 46 and second belt section 36 provide particulate material for application at a second subset of distribution points 46. While conveyor 30 is described as including first belt section 34 and second belt section 36, it is understood that conveyor 30 can include more than two belt sections to provide further sectional control capabilities. For example, conveyor 30 can include three belt sections or four belt sections.

For each sectional control belt 20, sectional control module 32 is connected to and controls the movement of first belt section 34 and second belt section 36. First belt section 34 can include a belt extending over and driven by sprockets. It is understood that the belt can be of any suitable configuration for transporting the particulate from a product bin to a funnel box. For example, the belt can be a stainless steel flat wire conveyor belt, among other options. Second belt section 36 is similar to first belt section 34 and can include a belt extending over and driven by sprockets. It is understood that the belt can be of any suitable configuration for transporting the particulate from a product bin to a funnel box. For example, the belt can be a stainless steel flat wire conveyor belt, among other options. The sprockets can engage and drive the belt section in any suitable manner, such as by teeth engaging directly with belt, among other options. Sectional control module 32 drives rotation of the sprockets to cause displacement of first belt section 34 and second belt section 36. First belt section 34 and second belt section 36 can also extend over idler sprockets not driven by sectional control module 32. Sectional control module 32 is configured to individually and/or simultaneously drive first belt section 34 and second belt section 36. When the particulate material reaches the end of either first belt section 34 or second belt section 36 the particulate material falls off of the belt and into funnel box assembly 22. Funnel box assembly 22 guides the particulate material to apertures 42 in distribution plate 24, and thus to distribution lines 44 extending along boom 26.

Each distribution line 44 includes a deflector (not shown) that the particulate material impinges on prior to exiting distribution line 44 at distribution point 46. The deflector directs the particulate material out of distribution line 44 and onto the soil. In one example, the particulate hitting the deflector triggers acoustic sensors attached to the outside of the deflectors. The acoustic sensors can communicate various parameters to the operator in cab 12 via system controller 16. For example, the sensors can indicate the quality of the lateral product distribution, indicate how much product has been distributed, and/or provide feedback for an open-loop or closed-loop system capable of controlling the product distribution. Other embodiments include a strain detecting sensor including, but not limited to, surface acoustic devices, piezoelectric strain sensors, BOTDR (Brillouin optical time-domain reflectometer) and other optical fiber strain sensors.

Sectional control module 32 is configured to individually drive first belt section 34 and second belt section 36. As such, sectional control module 32 controls which distribution lines 44 receive particulate at any given time. In some examples, sectional control module 32 includes a drivetrain and series of clutches. In other examples, sectional control module 32 includes a series of drivetrains. It is understood, however, that sectional control module 32 can be of any suitable configuration for selectively driving individual belt sections of conveyor 30. In examples where sectional control module 32 includes one or more clutches, a motor of sectional control module 32 can be directly connected to conveyor 30 to always drives one of first belt section 34 and second belt section 36, while the clutch selectively drives the other one of first belt section 34 and second belt section 36. For example, the motor can drive the inner belt section such that the belt continuously provides particulate to the distribution lines 44 for the inner half of boom 26, while flow to the distribution points on the outer half of boom 26 is controlled by the clutch. In other examples with one or more clutches, each of first belt section 34 and second belt section 36 is controlled by a clutch, such that each of first belt section 34 and second belt section 36 is individually controllable and drivable relative to the other one of first belt section 34 and second belt section 36. First belt section 34 and second belt section 36 are separated by spacers. The spacers prevent first belt section 34 and second belt section 36 from snagging or damaging regions of the adjacent belt section. The spacers can be made of any suitably wear resistant material, such as metal, ceramic, or a high density wear resistant material such as ultra-high molecular weight (UHMW) polyethylene or polyurethane.

Each of first belt section 34 and second belt section 36 are disposed directly above the individual chutes through funnel assembly 22, such that each of first belt section 34 and second belt section 36 is associated with a select number of the individual passages. As such, each of first belt section 34 and second belt section 36 is associated with a subset of apertures 42 through distribution plate 24. For example, when the particulate material reaches the end of first belt section 34, the particulate material falls off the belt of first belt section 34 and into a chute disposed below first belt 62 in lower funnel box 40. The chute directs the particulate material to an associated aperture 42 in distribution plate 24. The particulate enters the distribution line 44 associated with that aperture 42 and is carried to the distribution point 46 by the airflow within distribution line 44. As such, the flow of particulate material to certain distribution points can be controlled by controlling the operation of conveyor 30.

During operation, sectional control module 32 typically drives both first belt section 34 and second belt section 36. With both first belt section 34 and second belt section 36 activated, particulate material is provided to all apertures 42 and is thus applied to the soil along the full length of boom 26. Where the operator does not want to apply the particulate material along the entire length of boom 26, one of first belt section 34 or second belt section 36 is deactivated.

In one example, first belt section 34 is associated with the inner half of the chutes, which provide the particulate to the half of the distribution points 46 laterally closest to floater 10, and second belt section 36 is associated with the outer half of the chutes, which provide the particulate material to the half of the distribution points 46 laterally furthest from floater 10. When particulate is desired at the inner distribution points, sectional control module 32 drives first belt section 34 while second belt section 36 remains stationary. When particulate is desired at the outer distribution points, sectional control module 32 drives second belt section 36 while first belt section 34 remains stationary. In some examples, when different volumes of particulate are desired at the inner distribution points than the outer distribution points, sectional control module 32 can drive first belt section 34 at a different speed than second belt section 36. As such, sectional control module 32 allows the user to selectively provide particulate material for application via certain distribution points while preventing and/or reducing application at other distribution points.

Sectional control belt 20 is configured to be retrofit onto an existing floater 10. To retrofit the assembly onto a floater, the existing belt is removed and sectional control belt 20 is installed. A clutch pack can be installed on the existing drivetrain, or an additional drivetrain can be installed. First belt section 34 and second belt section 36 are installed and connected to the clutch pack and the motor assembly. The funnel box is installed on the distribution plate. Sectional control belt 20 provides on/off or adjustable control of the flow of particulate material from product bins l8a, l8b to the distribution points along booms 26. Sectional control belt 20 can also be integrated with system controller 16, such that system controller 16 provides automatic section control based on the location of the floater 10 in the field. Sectional control belt 20 prevents over application in areas of a field that floater 10 has already traversed. Preventing over application saves material costs by eliminating waste of particulate material. Sectional control belt 20 also reduces application rates near certain features, such as wetlands and open water, to thereby prevent water contamination and avoid applying particulate on wetlands or other protected area. Sectional control belt 20 thereby increases the efficiency of application while reducing material waste and thus cost.

Sectional control belt 20 allows for automatic or manual operator control of product distribution through sectional control utilizing individual subsets of conveyor 30 system. Sectional control is provided by allowing individual portions of the belt conveyor to be driven independently of other portions of the conveyor 30, thereby increasing the number of controllable sections. Each subsection of conveyor 30 is individually controllable, such that each belt subsection can be independently switched off, or jointly driven at a uniform speed, or driven at variable speeds relative to each other. Each belt subsection is separated by multiple separation tabs to prevent belt-to-belt contact. Sectional control belt 20 can be controlled by the operator, based on visual observation, or based on GPS information, such as precision field maps and prescription maps that are displayed to the operator on a mobile device inside the cab of the floater. Alternatively, or additionally, a fully automated, geo-referenced control system can control sectional control belt 20. The smart-tracking automatic fertilization can be overridden by the operator taking manual control of the machine to control which sections receive the particulate. In either case, the sectional control is exacted by shutting off power to select subsets of conveyor 30, thus preventing overlapped product application in the field.

System controller 16 can control sectional control belt 20 based on location data received from a geo-positioning system. For example, system controller 16 can control sectional control belt 20 based on location data from GPS (Global Positioning System), GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System), GPS/RTK (GPS/Real Time Kinematic), or equivalent systems.

FIG. 2A is an isometric view of a portion of sectional control belt 20. FIG. 2B is a cross-sectional view of a portion of sectional control belt 20. FIGS. 2A and 2B will be discussed together. Sectional control belt 20 includes conveyor 30 and sectional control module 32. Sectional control module 32 includes drivetrain 48 and clutch 50. Drivetrain 48 includes motor 52, gearbox 54, and first driveshaft 56. Clutch 50 includes second driveshaft 58. Conveyor 30 includes first belt section 34 and second belt section 36. First belt section 34 includes first sprocket 60 and first belt 62. Second belt section 36 includes second sprocket 64 and second belt 66.

Sectional control module 32 provides motive power to both first belt section 34 and second belt section 36. In the example shown, drivetrain 48 is operatively connected to first belt section 34 to drive first belt section 34. Clutch 50 is operatively connected to second belt section 36 to drive second belt section 36. Motor is mounted to gearbox 54 and is configured to drives gears (not shown) in gearbox 54. Gearbox 54 is a speed reduction gearbox and can be of any suitable configuration for providing a reduced output speed at first driveshaft 56 as compared to the input speed from motor 52. In some examples, gearbox 54 provides about a 5:1 reduction ratio, but it is understood that gearbox 54 can provide any desired speed reduction ratio. Motor 52 can be of any desired configuration suitable for driving rotation of first driveshaft 56. For example, motor 52 can be a hydraulic motor connected to the hydraulic system of floater 10 such that motor 52 is running whenever the hydraulic pump of the hydraulic system is operating. In other examples, motor 52 can be an electric motor or a pneumatic motor, among other options.

First driveshaft 56 extends from gearbox 54 to first sprocket 60 of first belt section 34. In some examples, first sprocket 60 is integrally formed on first driveshaft 56, such that first driveshaft 56 and first sprocket 60 are a unitary assembly. For example, first driveshaft 56 and first sprocket 60 can be cast as a unitary assembly or can be joined by welding or can be assembled in any desired manner. In other examples, first driveshaft 56 is operatively connected to first sprocket 60 to drive rotation of first sprocket 60, such as by an interference fit, by a splined connection, or by bolts or other fasteners, among other options. It is understood that first driveshaft 56 can interface with first sprocket 60 in any suitable manner for transferring rotational power from first driveshaft 56 to first sprocket 60, and thus to first belt 62.

First driveshaft 56 extends through clutch 50, such that clutch 50 is driven by first driveshaft 56 when clutch 50 is engaged. Clutch 50 can be of any suitable configuration for selectively engaging first driveshaft 56. For example, clutch 50 can be an electromagnetic clutch that is activated electrically and transmits torque mechanically. Electrically activating clutch 50 allows clutch 50 to be remotely activated without requiring a mechanical linkage. With clutch 50 in the disengaged state, the rotational torque of first driveshaft 56 is not transmitted to second driveshaft 58. With clutch 50 in the engaged state, the rotational torque of first driveshaft 56 is transmitted to second driveshaft 58 by clutch 50, such that drivetrain 48 drives the rotation of both first driveshaft 56 and second driveshaft 58.

Second driveshaft 58 extends from clutch 50 to second sprocket 64 of second belt section 36. Second driveshaft is hollow such that first driveshaft 56 extends through second driveshaft 58 and second sprocket 64 without engaging second driveshaft 58 or second sprocket 64. In some examples, second sprocket 64 is integrally formed on second driveshaft 58, such that second driveshaft 58 and second sprocket 64 are a unitary assembly. For example, second driveshaft 58 and second sprocket 64 can be cast as a unitary assembly, can be joined by welding, or can be assembled in any desired manner. In other examples, second driveshaft 58 is operatively connected to second sprocket 64 to drive rotation of second sprocket 64, such as by an interference fit, by a splined connection, or by bolts or other fasteners, among other options. It is understood that second driveshaft 58 can interface with second sprocket 64 in any suitable manner for transferring rotational power from second driveshaft 58 to second sprocket 64, and thus to second belt 66.

When motor 52 is activated and clutch 50 is in the engaged state, both first driveshaft 56 and second driveshaft 58 rotate and drive first belt 62 and second belt 66, respectively. Motor 52 drives rotation of first driveshaft 56 via gearbox 54, thereby driving rotation of first sprocket 60 and thus first belt 62. With clutch 50 in the engaged state, clutch 50 is driven by first driveshaft 56 and transmits rotational power to second driveshaft 58, thereby driving rotation of second sprocket 64 and causing displacement of second belt 66. First belt 62 and second belt 66 convey particulate material from the product bins to distribution lines extending along the boom, such as distribution lines 44 (FIGS. 1A-1C) along boom 26 (FIG 1A).

To provide particulate material from one half of sectional control belt 20, clutch 50 is placed in the disengaged state. With clutch 50 disengaged, clutch 50 does not transmit rotational power from first driveshaft 56 to second driveshaft 58. As such, no rotational power is provided to second sprocket 64 and second sprocket 64 does not rotate. Second belt 66 thus remains stationary and does not convey particulate material to the distribution lines 44 associated with second belt section 36. Drivetrain 48 continues to provide motive power to first belt section 34 via first driveshaft 56 and first sprocket 60. As such, first belt section 34 can continue to supply the particulate material to those distribution lines 44 associated with first belt section 34 even where second belt section 36 is stationary. Cutting power to motor 52 stops movement of both first belt section 34 and second belt section 36, thereby preventing sectional control belt 20 from supplying particulate material from both first belt section 34 and second belt section 36.

Sectional control belt 20 provides significant advantages. Sectional control belt 20 allows the operator to provide material to less than all of the distribution lines 44 extending along boom 26. This allows the operator to limit excess application of particulate material, such as fertilizer, on portions of the field where the particulate material has already been applied, saving costs and preventing over-application. Sectional control belt 20 also saves cost because sectional control belt 20 can be retrofit onto an existing floater. To retrofit the floater, clutch 50 is installed on the existing drivetrain, and first belt section 34 and second belt section 36 are installed in place of the existing belt. As such, sectional control belt 20 provides a low-cost option for implementing sectional control capabilities on a machine that previously lacking in sectional control capabilities.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of sectional control belt 20'. Sectional control belt 20' includes conveyor 30 and sectional control module 32'. Sectional control module 32' includes drivetrain 48, first clutch 50, and second clutch 68. Drivetrain 48 includes a motor (not shown), gearbox 54, and first driveshaft 56. First clutch 50 includes second driveshaft 58. Second clutch 68 includes third driveshaft 70. Conveyor 30 includes first belt section 34 and second belt section 36. First belt section 34 includes first sprocket 60 and first belt 62. Second belt section 36 includes second sprocket 64 and second belt 66.

Sectional control belt 20' is similar to sectional control belt 20 shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B, except sectional control module 32' of sectional control belt 20' includes first clutch 50 and second clutch 68 that control movement of first belt section 34 and second belt section 36, respectively.

Drivetrain 48 is configured to provide rotational input to each of first clutch 50 and second clutch 68. The motor is similar to motor 52 (best seen in FIG. 2A) and is mounted to gearbox 54 and provides rotational power to the geartrain (not shown) disposed within gearbox 54. First driveshaft 56 is operatively mounted to gearbox 54 such that the motor drives rotation of first driveshaft 56 via gearbox 54. The motor can be of any desired configuration suitable for driving rotation of first driveshaft 56. For example, the motor can be a hydraulic motor connected to the hydraulic system of floater 10 such that the motor is running whenever the hydraulic pump of the hydraulic system is operating. In other examples, the motor can be an electric motor or a pneumatic motor, among other options.

Each of first clutch 50 and second clutch 68 can be selectively engaged with first driveshaft 56. First driveshaft 56 extends through each of first clutch 50 and second clutch 68. In some examples, second driveshaft 58 and third driveshaft 70 are hollow such that first driveshaft 56 extends through each of second driveshaft 58 and third driveshaft 70. Each of first driveshaft 56, second driveshaft 58, and third driveshaft 70 can be disposed coaxially. It is understood, however, that first driveshaft 56 can be operatively connected to each of first clutch 50 and second clutch 68 in any desired manner. As such, in some examples first driveshaft 56 is axially offset from one or more of second driveshaft 58 and third driveshaft 70.

Second driveshaft 58 extends from first clutch 50 to first sprocket 60. First clutch 50 is configured to transmit rotational power from first driveshaft 56 to second driveshaft 58 when first clutch 50 is engaged. First clutch 50 disconnects first driveshaft 56 and second driveshaft 58 when first clutch 50 is disengaged, such that second driveshaft 58 does not rotate when first clutch 50 is disengaged. First clutch 50 can be of any suitable configuration for selectively engaging with first driveshaft 56. For example, first clutch 50 can be an electromagnetic clutch that is actively controlled between the engaged state and the disengaged state based on electrical signals provided to first clutch 50. It is understood, however, that first clutch 50 can be of any desired configuration capable of being actively controlled between the engaged state and the disengaged state.

Second clutch 68 is similar to first clutch 50, except second clutch 68 controls the operation of second belt section 36 while first clutch 50 controls the operation of first belt section 34. Third driveshaft 70 extends from second clutch 68 to second sprocket 64. Second clutch 68 is configured to transmit rotational power from first driveshaft 56 to third driveshaft 70 when second clutch 68 is engaged. Second clutch 68 disconnects first driveshaft 56 and third driveshaft 70 when second clutch is disengaged, such that third driveshaft 70 does not rotate when second clutch 68 is disengaged.

During operation, drivetrain 48 is activated and first driveshaft 56 rotates. Sectional control belt 20' provides sectional control capabilities to floater 10 (FIGS. 1A- 1D). To provide particulate material across the full width of a boom 26 (FIGS. 1A-1C) both first clutch 50 and second clutch 68 are put in the engaged state. With first clutch 50 in the engaged state, first clutch 50 drives second driveshaft 58, which drives first belt 62 via first sprocket 60. With second clutch 68 in the engaged state, second clutch 68 drives third driveshaft 70, which drives second belt 66 via second sprocket 64. As such, with both first clutch 50 and second clutch 68 in the engaged state, particulate material is provided to the boom from the full width of sectional control belt 20'.

To provide particulate material from only first belt section 34, second clutch 68 is put in the disengaged state and first clutch 50 is maintained in the engaged state. First clutch 50 transmits rotational power to first belt section 34 while second clutch 68 stops transmitting rotational power to second belt section 36. As such, only first belt section 34 provides particulate material to boom 26. The particulate material is not provided to those distribution points that receive particulate material from second belt section. To provide particulate material from only second belt section 36, first clutch 50 is put in the disengaged state and second clutch 68 is maintained in the engaged state. Second clutch 68 transmits rotational power to second belt section 36 while first clutch 50 stops transmitting rotational power to first belt section 34. As such, only second belt section 36 provides particulate material to boom 26. The particulate material is not provided to those distribution points that receive particulate material from first belt section 34.

For example, first belt section 34 can provide particulate material to the distribution points on the laterally inner half of the boom and second belt section 36 can provide particulate material to the distribution points on the laterally outer half of the boom 26. With first clutch 50 engaged and second clutch 68 disengaged, only those distribution points on the laterally inner half will receive and apply the particulate material. With first clutch 50 disengaged and second clutch 68 engaged, only those distribution points on the laterally outer half will receive and apply the particulate material. With both first clutch 50 and second clutch 68 engaged, all distribution points receive the particulate material. With both first clutch 50 and second clutch 68 disengaged, no distribution point receives the particulate material.

Sectional control belt 20' provides significant advantages. Sectional control belt 20' allows the operator to provide material to all of the distribution points along boom 26 or to a subset of the distribution points along boom 26. The operator can prevent application of particulate on portions of the field that have already been treated, thereby avoiding over-application, reducing material costs, and increasing application efficiency. Each belt section of sectional control belt 20' being controlled by a clutch allows each section of sectional control belt 20' to be activated and deactivated as desired, providing the operator greater control over the particulate application process.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of sectional control belt 20". Sectional control belt 20" includes conveyor 40 and sectional control module 32". Sectional control module 32" includes first drivetrain 48, first clutch 50, second clutch 68, and second drivetrain 72. First gearbox 54 and first driveshaft 56 of first drivetrain 48 are shown. First clutch 50 includes second driveshaft 58. Second clutch 68 includes third driveshaft 70. Second gearbox 76 and fourth driveshaft 77 of second drivetrain 72 are shown. Conveyor 30 includes first belt section 34 and second belt section 36. First belt section 34 includes first sprocket 60 and first belt 62. Second belt section 36 includes second sprocket 64 and second belt 66. Sectional control module 32" is similar to sectional control module 32' except each clutch 50, 68 of sectional control module 32" is powered by an individually- associated drivetrain. First driveshaft 56 extends from first drivetrain 48 to first clutch 50 and is configured to drive first clutch 50. Second driveshaft 58 extends from first clutch 50 to first sprocket 60, such that second driveshaft 58 can drive first belt section 34. Fourth driveshaft 77 extends from second drivetrain 72 to second clutch 68 and is configured to drive second clutch 68. Third driveshaft 70 extends from second clutch 68 to second sprocket 64, such that third driveshaft 70 can drive second belt section 36.

First drivetrain 48 and second drivetrain 72 can be configured such that first driveshaft 56 and fourth driveshaft 77 rotate whenever power is provided to the floater. For example, first drivetrain 48 and second drivetrain 72 can include hydraulic motors connected to the hydraulic system of the floater. It is understood, however, that first drivetrain 48 and second drivetrain 72 can include any desired configuration of motor, such as electric motors or pneumatic motors.

Sectional control is provided by engaging and disengaging first clutch 50 and second clutch 68. With both first clutch 50 and second clutch 68 in the engaged state, both first belt section 34 and second belt section 36 are driven and provide particulate material for application. With first clutch 50 engaged and second clutch 68 disengaged, only first belt section 34 is driven and provides particulate material. With first clutch 50 disengaged and second clutch 68 engaged, only second belt section 36 provides particulate material. With both first clutch 50 and second clutch 68 disengaged, neither first belt section 34 nor second belt section 36 provide particulate material. First drivetrain 48 can drive first clutch 50 at a different speed than second drivetrain 72 drives second clutch 68. As such, first belt section 34 and second belt section 36 can simultaneously provide material at different rates. This provides additional sectional control capabilities to the user.

FIG. 5A is an isometric view of sectional control belt 20"'. FIG. 5B is a cross- sectional view of sectional control belt 20"'. FIGS. 5A and 5B will be discussed together. Sectional control belt 20'" includes conveyor 30 and sectional control module 32'". Sectional control module 32" includes first drivetrain 48 and second drivetrain 72. First drivetrain 48 includes first motor 52, first gearbox 54, and first driveshaft 56. Second drivetrain 72 includes second driveshaft 58, second motor 74, and second gearbox 76. Conveyor 30 includes first belt section 34 and second belt section 36. First belt section 34 includes first sprocket 60 and first belt 62. Second belt section 36 includes second sprocket 64 and second belt 66.

Sectional control module 32"' is substantially similar to sectional control module 32 shown in FIGS. 2A-2B, sectional control module 32' shown in FIG. 3, and sectional control module 32" shown in FIG. 4, except sectional control module 32'" includes first drivetrain 48 and second drivetrain 72 to drive displacement of first belt section 34 and second belt section 36, respectively.

First drivetrain 48 is connected to and powers to first belt section 34. First motor 52 is connected to and drives the gears (not shown) within first gearbox 54. First driveshaft 56 extends from first gearbox, through second gearbox 76 and second driveshaft 58, and engages first sprocket 60. First motor 52 can be of any suitable configuration for powering first driveshaft 56, such as a hydraulic motor, an electric motor, or a pneumatic motor. It is understood that first driveshaft 56 can drive first sprocket 60 in any desired manner. In some examples, first driveshaft 56 and first sprocket 60 are integrally formed. In other examples, first driveshaft 56 is removably connected to first sprocket 60. First belt 62 extends over first sprocket 60. First sprocket 60 engages first belt 62 and is configured to drive first belt 62. For example, first sprocket 60 can include teeth configured to directly engage first belt 62 or to engage a track on first belt 62.

Second drivetrain 72 is connected to and powers second belt section 36. Second motor 74 is connected to and drives the gears (not shown) within second gearbox 76. Second driveshaft 58 extends from second gearbox 76 and engages second sprocket 64 of second belt section 36. Second motor 74 can be of any suitable configuration for powering second driveshaft 58, such as a hydraulic motor, an electric motor, or a pneumatic motor. Second driveshaft 58 can drive second sprocket 64 in any desired manner. In some examples, second driveshaft 58 and second sprocket 64 are integrally formed. In other examples, second driveshaft 58 is removably connected to second sprocket 64. Second belt 66 extends over second sprocket 64. Second sprocket 64 engages second belt 66 and is configured to drive second belt 66. For example, second sprocket 64 can include teeth configured to engage directly with second belt 66 or with a track on second belt 66.

While first drivetrain 48 and second drivetrain 72 are aligned such that first driveshaft 56 and second driveshaft 58 are coaxially disposed, it is understood that first drivetrain 48 and second drivetrain 72 can be mounted to drive movement of first belt 62 and second belt 66 in any desired manner. For example, first drivetrain 48 can be mounted at a first location along the length of sectional control belt 20"' and second drivetrain 72 can be mounted at a second location along the length of sectional control belt 20"'. In one example, first drivetrain 48 is mounted at a location closer to cab 12 (FIG. 1A) than second drivetrain 72.

Sectional control module 32'" provides section control capabilities during the distribution of particulate material on a field. First drivetrain 48 and second drivetrain 72 individually drive first belt section 34 and second belt section 36, respectively. First drivetrain 48 and second drivetrain 72 are controlled such that the supply of particulate material is from first belt section 34, second belt section 36, or both. To supply the particulate material from the full width of sectional control belt 20'", both first motor 52 and second motor 74 are activated. First motor drives rotation of first driveshaft 56 via first gearbox 54. First driveshaft 56 causes first sprocket 60 to rotate, thereby driving first belt 62. Second motor drives rotation of second driveshaft 58 via second gearbox 76. Second driveshaft 58 causes second sprocket 64 to rotate, thereby driving second belt 66. As such, both first belt 62 and second belt 66 are driven forward and provide the particulate material for application at the distribution points along boom 26. In some examples, first drivetrain 48 can drive first belt section 34 at a different speed (faster or slower) than second drivetrain 72 drives second belt section 36. Varying the speed between first belt section 34 and second belt section 36 allows the user to supply material across the full width of the boom while varying the application rate at different sections along the boom.

To supply particulate material from only first belt section 34, first motor 52 is activated and second motor 74 is deactivated. First motor 52 drives first belt 62 through first gearbox 54, first driveshaft 56, and first sprocket 60. Because second motor 74 is idle, second belt section 36 remains stationary. To supply particulate material from only second belt section 36, second motor 74 is activated and first motor 52 is deactivated. Second motor 74 drives second belt 66 through second gearbox 76, second driveshaft 58, and second sprocket 64. Because first motor 52 is idle, first belt section 34 remains stationary. As such, sectional control belt 20'" provides sectional control capabilities to control the supply of the particulate material by controlling activation of first drivetrain 48 and second drivetrain 72.

FIG. 6A is an isometric view of sectional control belt 20"". FIG. 6B is a cross- sectional view of sectional control belt 20"". FIGS. 6A and 6B will be discussed together. Sectional control belt 20"" includes conveyor 30' and sectional control module 32"". Sectional control module 32"" includes drivetrain 48, first clutch 50, and second clutch 68. Drivetrain 48 includes motor 52, gearbox 54, and first driveshaft 56. First clutch 50 includes second driveshaft 58. Second clutch 68 includes third driveshaft 70. Conveyor 30' includes first belt section 34, second belt section 36, and third belt section 78. First belt section 34 includes first sprocket 60 and first belt 62. Second belt section 36 includes second sprocket 64 and second belt 66. Third belt section 78 includes third sprocket 80 and third belt 82.

Sectional control belt 20"" is similar to sectional control belt 20 shown in FIGS. 2A-2B, sectional control belt 20' shown in FIG. 3, sectional control belt 20" shown in FIG. 4, and sectional control belt 20'" shown in FIGS. 5A-5B, except sectional control belt 20"" includes three belt sections.

Sectional control module 32"" provides rotational power to each of first belt section 34, second belt section 36, and third belt section 78. Motor 52 is connected to and drives gears (not shown) in gearbox 54. First driveshaft 56 extends from gearbox 54 and is operatively connected to first sprocket 60 of first belt section 34 to drive rotation of first sprocket 60. Second driveshaft 58 extends from first clutch 50 and is connected to second sprocket 64 of second belt section 36 to drive rotation of second sprocket 64. Third driveshaft 70 extends from second clutch 68 and is connected to third sprocket 80 of third belt section 78 to drive rotation of third sprocket 80. It is understood that each of first sprocket 60, second sprocket 64, and third sprocket 80 can be integrally formed with first driveshaft 56, second driveshaft 58, and third driveshaft 70, respectively, or can be separately formed and connected in any suitable manner.

Each of second driveshaft 58 and third driveshaft 70 are hollow. First driveshaft 56 extends through first clutch 50, second clutch 68, second driveshaft 58, and third driveshaft 70. Each of first clutch 50 and second clutch 68 are actuatable between the engaged state and the disengaged state. With first clutch 50 in the engaged state, first driveshaft 56 drives rotation of first clutch 50, such that second driveshaft 58 rotates. As such, first clutch 50 provides rotational power to second belt section 36 only when first driveshaft 56 is powered and first clutch 50 is in the engaged state. Second driveshaft 58 extends through second clutch 68 and second driveshaft 58. With second clutch 68 in the engaged state, second driveshaft 58 drives rotation of second clutch 68, such that third driveshaft 70 rotates. As such, second clutch 68 provides rotational power to third belt section 78 only when second driveshaft 58 is powered and second clutch 68 is in the engaged state.

Sectional control belt 20"" provides sectional control capabilities for agricultural spreaders. To supply particulate material to the every distribution line 44 (FIGS. 1A-1C) of boom 26 (FIGS. 1A-1C), first clutch 50 and second clutch 68 are placed in the engaged state and motor 52 is activated. Motor 52 drives the gears in gearbox 54, thereby driving rotation of first driveshaft 56. First driveshaft 56 drives first sprocket 60 and rotation of first clutch 50, and first clutch 50 drives rotation of second driveshaft 58. Second driveshaft 58 drives second sprocket 64 and rotation of second clutch 68. Second clutch 68 drives rotation of third driveshaft 70. Third driveshaft 70 drives third sprocket 80. First sprocket 60, second sprocket 64, and third sprocket 80 drive forward displacement of first belt 62, second belt 66, and third belt 82, respectively, thereby conveying particulate material for application at distribution points along boom 26.

To provide particulate material from less than the full width of sectional control belt 20"", one or both of first clutch 50 and second clutch 68 are placed in the disengaged state. To provide particulate material from first belt section 34 and second belt section 36, first clutch 50 is placed in the engaged state and second clutch 68 is placed in the disengaged state. With second clutch 68 disengaged, third belt section 78 is disconnected from drivetrain 48 and remains stationary even as first belt section 34 is driven by first driveshaft 56 and second belt section 36 is driven by second driveshaft 58. To provide particulate material from only first belt section 34, both first clutch 50 and second clutch 68 are placed in the disengaged state.

FIG. 7A is an isometric view of sectional control belt 20""'. FIG. 7B is a cross- sectional view of sectional control belt 20""'. FIGS. 7A and 7B will be discussed together. Sectional control belt 20'"" includes conveyor 30' and sectional control module 32'"". Sectional control module 32'"" includes first drivetrain 48, second drivetrain 72, and third drivetrain 84. First drivetrain 48 includes first motor 52, first gearbox 54, and first driveshaft 56. Second drivetrain 72 includes second driveshaft 58, second motor 74, and second gearbox 76. Third drivetrain 84 includes third driveshaft 70, third motor 86, and third gearbox 88. Conveyor 30' includes first belt section 34, second belt section 36, and third belt section 78. First belt section 34 includes first sprocket 60 and first belt 62. Second belt section 36 includes second sprocket 64 and second belt 66. Third belt section 78 includes third sprocket 80 and third belt 82. Sectional control module 32""' is similar to sectional control module 32"" shown in FIGS. 5A-5B, except sectional control module 32""' includes first drivetrain 48, second drivetrain 72, and third drivetrain 84 to drive first belt section 34, second belt section 36, and third belt section 78, respectively.

Sectional control module 32'"" selectively provides motive power to first belt section 34, second belt section 36, and third belt section 78. First drivetrain 48 is connected to and provides power to first belt section 34. First motor 52 mounted to first gearbox 54 and drives the gears (not shown) within first gearbox 54. First driveshaft 56 extends from first gearbox 54, through second gearbox 76 and second driveshaft 58, through third gearbox 88 and third driveshaft 70, and engages first sprocket 60 of first belt section 34. First belt 62 extends over and engages first sprocket 60. First belt 62 is driven by first sprocket 60.

Second drivetrain 72 is connected to and provides motive power to second belt section 36. Second motor 74 is connected to and drives the gears (not shown) within second gearbox 76. Second driveshaft 58 extends from second gearbox 76 through third gearbox 88 and third driveshaft 70 and engages second sprocket 64 of second belt section 36. Second belt 66 extends over and engages second sprocket 64. Second belt 66 is driven by second sprocket 64.

Third drivetrain 84 is connected to and provides power to third belt section 78. Third motor 86 is connected to and drives gears (not shown) within third gearbox 88. Third driveshaft 70 extends from third gearbox 88 and engages third sprocket 80 of third belt section 78. Third belt 82 extends over and engages third sprocket 80. Third belt 82 is driven by third sprocket 80. Second driveshaft 58 is hollow to accommodate first driveshaft 56, and third driveshaft 70 is hollow to accommodate both first driveshaft 56 and second driveshaft 58. In the example shown, first driveshaft 56, second driveshaft 58, and third driveshaft 70 are disposed coaxially. It is understood, however, that first drivetrain 48, second drivetrain 72, and third drivetrain 84 can be offset along the length of sectional control belt 20'"".

Each of first belt section 34, second belt section 36, and third belt section 78 can be individually controlled by sectional control module 32'"" to provide sectional control during distribution of the particulate material. The supply of particulate material can be from first belt section 34, second belt section 36, third belt section 78, or any combination thereof. To supply the particulate material from the full width of sectional control belt 20'"", each of first motor 52, second motor 74, and third motor 86 are activated. First motor 52 drives first driveshaft 56 via first gearbox 54. First driveshaft 56 drives rotation of first sprocket 60, thereby driving first belt 62. Second motor 74 drives second driveshaft 58 via second gearbox 76. Second driveshaft 58 drives rotation of second sprocket 64, thereby driving second belt 66. Third motor drives rotation of third driveshaft 70 via third gearbox 88. Third driveshaft 70 drives rotation of third sprocket 80, thereby driving third belt 82. As such, each of first belt 62, second belt 66, and third belt 82 are driven forward and provide the particulate material.

To supply particulate material from less than the full width of sectional control belt 20""' only those motors associated with the desired distribution lines 44 (FIGS. 1A- 1C) are activated. For example, to supply particulate material from only first belt section 34, first motor 52 is activated, while second motor 74 and third motor 86 remain idle. To supply particulate material from only third belt section 78, third motor 86 is activated, while first motor 52 and second motor 74 remain idle. To supply particulate material from both first belt section 34 and second belt section 36, first motor 52 and second motor 74 are activated, and third motor 86 remains idle. To supply particulate material from first belt section 34 and third belt section 78, first motor 52 and third motor 86 are activated, while second motor 74 remains idle. As such, sectional control belt 20""' provides independent control over the supply of the particulate material by selectively activating one or more of first drivetrain 48, second drivetrain 72, and third drivetrain 84.

FIG. 8 is a block diagram of system controller 16. System controller 16 includes geo-positioning receiver 90, memory 92, control circuitry 94, and user interface 96. System controller 16 is in communication with sectional control module 32 and sensors 98.

System controller 16 is configured to control the flow of particulate material to distribution points along boom 26 (FIGS. 1B and 1C). System controller 16 is configured to control the operation of various components of floater 10 (FIGS. 1A-1C) to provide sectional control to floater 10. It is understood that system controller 16 can be of any suitable configuration for controlling operation of components of floater 10, gathering data, processing data, etc. In some examples, system controller 16 can be implemented as a plurality of discrete circuity subassemblies. In one example, control circuitry 94 is configured to implement functionality and/or process instructions. For instance, control circuitry 94 can be capable of processing instructions stored in memory 92. Examples of control circuitry 94 can include any one or more of a microprocessor, a controller, a digital signal processor (DSP), an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC), a field- programmable gate array (FPGA), or other equivalent discrete or integrated logic circuitry.

Memory 92, in some examples, can be configured to store information during operation. Memory 92, in some examples, is described as computer-readable storage media. In some examples, a computer-readable storage medium can include a non- transitory medium. The term“non-transitory” can indicate that the storage medium is not embodied in a carrier wave or a propagated signal. In certain examples, a non-transitory storage medium can store data that can, over time, change (e.g., in RAM or cache). In some examples, memory 92 is a temporary memory, meaning that a primary purpose of memory 92 is not long-term storage. Memory 92, in some examples, is described as volatile memory, meaning that memory 92 does not maintain stored contents when power is turned off. Examples of volatile memories can include random access memories (RAM), dynamic random access memories (DRAM), static random access memories (SRAM), and other forms of volatile memories. In some examples, memory 92 is used to store program instructions for execution by control circuitry 94. Memory 92, in one example, is used by software or applications running on system controller 16 to temporarily store information during program execution.

Memory 92, in some examples, also includes one or more non-volatile computer- readable storage media. Memory 92 can be configured to store larger amounts of information than volatile memory. Memory 92 can further be configured for long-term storage of information. In some examples, memory 92 includes non-volatile storage elements. Examples of such non-volatile storage elements can include magnetic hard discs, optical discs, floppy discs, flash memories, or forms of electrically programmable memories (EPROM) or electrically erasable and programmable (EEPROM) memories.

User interface 96, such as a keyboard, touchscreen, monitor, mouse, smartphone, tablet, or other suitable interface device, allows a user to interact with system controller 16, such as by retrieving information from memory 92, receiving notifications, initiating the software stored in memory 92, and inputting additional information to memory 92, among other examples. User interface 96 can be integrated into system controller 16 or can be a device separate from system controller 16, such as a smartphone or tablet. In some examples, user interface 96 is a device integrated into and/or mounted within cab 12 (FIG. 1A) of floater 10.

Sensors 98 are disposed at various locations on floater 10 and are configured to provide information to system controller 16. System controller 16 utilizes the information from sensors 98 to generate and provide commands to other components of floater 10. In some examples, sensors 98 can include sensors disposed at dispensing points along boom 26. Sensors 98 can be configured to provide information to system controller 16 regarding the flow of particulate material at the dispensing points. For example, sensors 98 can be acoustic sensors attached to the outside of deflectors located at the dispensing points. The acoustic sensors can communicate various parameters to system controller 16 and to the operator of the floater via user interface 96. For example, the sensors can indicate the quality of the lateral product distribution, indicate how much product has been distributed, and/or provide feedback for system controller 16 regarding product distribution. In other examples, sensors 98 can be a strain detecting sensor including, but not limited to, surface acoustic devices, piezoelectric strain sensors, BOTDR (Brillouin optical time-domain reflectometer) and other optical fiber strain sensors. In yet another example, sensors 98 can include ground speed sensors for providing the ground speed of the floater 10 and/or boom 26 to system controller 16.

Geo-positioning receiver 90, which can be compatible with any desired geo positioning system, such as GPS, GNSS, and GPS/RTK, is communicatively connected to system controller 16. System controller 16 receives geo-positioning information from geo-positioning receiver 90 and can use that geo-positioning information to control the components of floater 10.

During operation, system controller 16 provides commands to sectional control module 32 to implement the desired sectional control. The user can provide sectional control commands to system controller 16 via user interface 96, and in some examples the user can manually control operation of sectional control module 32 via user interface 96 and system controller 16. In other examples, system controller 16 is configured to automatically implement section control based on information received from sensors 98 and geo-positioning receiver 90.

The positions of the dispensing points along boom 26, and/or groups of dispensing points, can be determined and stored in memory 92. In addition, a field map can be generated and stored in memory 92. Based on information from sensors 98, system controller 16 can determine which dispensing points are dispensing particulate at any given time. As such, system controller 16 can determine which dispensing points are dispensing particulate at a given time and can determine the relative location of those dispensing points in the field. By comparing the dispense point information from sensors 98 with geo-positioning information received from geo-positioning receiver 90, system controller 16 can thus determine which areas of the field the particulate has been applied on. System controller 16 stores that treatment information in memory 92 and can utilize the treatment information to implement sectional control.

System controller 16 can determine and monitor the relative position of floater 10 and/or each dispense point within the field based on the information received from geo positioning receiver 90. In some examples, system controller 16 can operate autonomously, such that system controller 16 implements sectional control based on the position of floater 10 and the portions of the field that have already been treated. In some examples, operator can provide sectional control commands to system controller 16 via user interface 96. System controller 16 can also provide information, such as geo positioning and field map information, to the operator via user interface 96. The operator can also, in some examples, override the sectional control implemented by system controller 16 via the user interface 96.

System controller 16 can implement sectional control based on one or more baseline criteria, such as whether any particulate has already been applied to a portion of the field; whether a certain minimum amount of particulate has been applied to a portion of the field; soil chemistry in various areas of the field; and the relative location of other features in the field, such as ponds; among other options. For example, the baseline criteria can be that no additional particulate should be applied in areas of the field where any amount of particulate has already been applied.

When system controller 16 determines that floater is approaching an area of the field that meets the baseline criteria, system controller 16 will activate and deactivate movement of certain belt sections (such as first belt section 34 (FIGS. 2A-7B), second belt section 36 (FIGS. 2A-7B), and third belt section 78 (FIGS. 6A-7B)). System controller 16 can provide a sectional control command to sectional control module 32 to control which belt section provides particulate at a given time. With the movement of certain belt sections deactivated, the particulate is not supplied to those distribution points associated with the deactivated belt section(s). As such, the particulate will not be applied through those distribution points.

When system controller 16 determines that particulate flow should resume to the distribution points associated with the static belt section(s), system controller 16 sends a command to sectional control module 32 to activate movement of the belt sections.

System controller 16 provides significant advantages. System controller 16 the flow of particulate to dispensing points via sectional control module 32. As such, system controller 16 accounts for asymmetrical field features and the typical working width of fertilizer spreaders and prevents overlap and duplicative application. System controller 16 can also reduce application rates near certain features, such as wetlands and open water, to thereby prevent water contamination and avoid applying particulate on wetlands or other protected area. System controller 16 thereby increases the efficiency of application while reducing material waste and thus cost.

FIG. 9 is a flowchart illustrating method 100 of providing sectional control. In step 102, a system controller, such as system controller 16 (FIG. 7), is activated and the system controller determines the areas of the field on which particulate has been applied based on geo-positioning and dispense information. System controller 16 determines the location of the boom and dispense points relative to portions of the field on which the particulate material has already been applied, such as via GPS, GNSS, and/or GPS/RTK, for example.

In step 104, system controller 16 generates and provides commands to mechanisms on floater 10. For example, system controller 16 can command sectional control module 32 (FIGS. 1A-7) to activate and deactivate certain belt sections as desired. The commands are generated by system controller 16 based on the relative location of the floater 10 in the field. In step 106, the sectional control module drives at least one belt section of the sectional control belt 20 to draw particulate material from a product bin and provide the particulate material for application in the field. Sensors, such as sensors 98 (FIG. 6), can provide feedback to the operator and system controller 16 regarding the flow of particulate material to the various dispensing points along boom 26. In step 108, system controller 16 adjusts product flow to various dispensing points as the floater traverses the field based on the relative location of the dispense points to areas of the field that have already been treated. System controller 16 can command sectional control module 32 to activate and deactivate certain belt sections to control which distribution points receive particulate material at a given time.

Sectional control module 32 allows the operator of a floater to control the flow of particulate material to the boom for application to the field. Controlling the flow of particulate material prevents over-application of the particulate material within the field. Controlling the flow of particulate material prevents reapplication of the particulate material in areas where the particulate material has already been applied, thereby preventing harm due to over application and providing a savings in both costs and materials. While the invention has been described with reference to an exemplary embodiment(s), it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the invention without departing from the essential scope thereof. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiment(s) disclosed, but that the invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope of the appended claims.

Claims

CLAIMS:
1. A sectional control belt comprising:
a first belt section including a first sprocket and a first belt, the first sprocket configured to drive the first belt;
a second belt section adjacent the first belt section, the second belt section including a second sprocket and a second belt, the second sprocket configured to drive the second belt; and
a section control module configured to individually drive the first belt section and the second belt section.
2. The sectional control belt of claim 1, wherein the sectional control module comprises:
a first drivetrain;
a first driveshaft extending from the first drivetrain, wherein the first driveshaft is configured to provide motive power to the first belt section.
3. The sectional control belt of claim 2, wherein the sectional control module further comprises:
a first clutch connected to the first driveshaft, wherein the first clutch is configured to selectively provide motive power to the first belt section from the first driveshaft.
4. The sectional control belt of claim 3, wherein the sectional control module further comprises:
a second clutch connected to the first driveshaft, wherein the second clutch is configured to selectively provide motive power to the second belt section from the first driveshaft.
5. The sectional control belt of claim 4, wherein the first clutch includes a second driveshaft extending from the first clutch to the first sprocket, the second driveshaft configured to drive rotation of the first sprocket.
6. The sectional control belt of claim 5, wherein the second clutch includes a third driveshaft extending from the second clutch and to the second sprocket, the third driveshaft configured to drive rotation of the second sprocket.
7. The sectional control belt of claim 6, wherein the first driveshaft, the second driveshaft, and the third driveshaft are coaxial.
8. The sectional control belt of claim 2, wherein the sectional control module further comprises:
a second drivetrain;
a second driveshaft extending from the second drivetrain, wherein the second driveshaft configured to provide motive power to the second belt section.
9. The sectional control belt of claim 8, wherein the second driveshaft is hollow and the first driveshaft extends through the second driveshaft.
10. The sectional control belt of claim 8, further comprising:
a third belt section including a third sprocket and a third belt, the third sprocket configured to drive the third belt;
wherein the third belt is disposed parallel to the first belt and the second belt, and wherein the third belt is movable relative to the first belt and the second belt.
11. The sectional control belt of claim 10, further comprising:
a third drivetrain;
a third driveshaft extending from the third drivetrain to the third sprocket, wherein the third driveshaft is configured to provide motive power to the third belt section.
12. The sectional control belt of claim 11, wherein the first driveshaft, the second driveshaft, and the third driveshaft are disposed coaxially.
13. The sectional control belt of claim 2, wherein the first drivetrain includes a first motor and a first gearbox.
14. The sectional control belt of claim 13, wherein the first motor is a hydraulic motor.
15. The sectional control belt of claim 1, further comprising:
control circuitry configured to:
output a sectional control command to the section control module, the section control command causing the sectional control module to one of drive the first belt section relative to the second belt section and drive the second belt section relative to the first belt section.
16. The sectional control belt of claim 15, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to: determine a position of a dispense point in a field, the dispense point located along a boom extending from an agricultural spreader; determine treated portions of the field; and
generate the sectional control command based on the position of the dispense point relative to the treated portions of the field.
17. The sectional control belt of claim 16, wherein the control circuitry is further configured to:
receive geo-positioning information; and
determine the position of the dispense point in the field based on the geo positioning information.
18. A sectional control system comprising:
a product bin disposed on an agricultural spreader and configured to store particulate material;
a boom extending laterally from the agricultural spreader; a first dispensing line and a second dispensing line extending along the boom, the first dispensing line providing the particulate material to a first dispensing point and the second dispensing line providing the particulate material to a second dispensing point;
a sectional control belt configured to convey the particulate material from the product bin to the first dispensing line and the second dispensing line, the sectional control belt comprising:
a first belt section including a first sprocket and a first belt, the first sprocket configured to drive the first belt;
a second belt section adjacent the first belt section, the second belt section including a second sprocket and a second belt, the second sprocket configured to drive the second belt;
a section control module configured to individually drive the first belt section and the second belt section;
wherein the first belt section is configured to provide the particulate material to the first dispensing line and the second belt section is configured to provide the particulate material to the second dispensing line.
19. The sectional control assembly of claim 18, further comprising:
control circuitry configured to: determine relative positions of the first dispense point and the second dispense point relative to treated portions of a field; output a sectional control command to the section control module based on the relative positions, the section control command causing the sectional control module to one of drive the first belt section relative to the second belt section and drive the second belt section relative to the first belt section.
20. The sectional control assembly of claim 19, wherein the sectional control belt further comprises:
a third belt section adjacent the second belt section, the third belt section including a third sprocket and a third belt, the third sprocket configured to drive the third belt;
wherein the sectional control module is configured to individually drive the third belt section relative to the first belt section and the second belt section; and
wherein the third belt section is configured to provide the particulate material to a third dispensing line extending along the boom to a third dispensing point.
21. A method of agricultural section control, the method comprising:
determining a location of a spreader machine in a field relative to treated portions of the field;
generating a section control command based on the determined location of the spreader machine and providing the section control command to a sectional control module of a sectional control belt of the spreader machine;
driving at least one belt section of the sectional control belt with the sectional control module based on the section control command; drawing material from a product bin of the spreader machine with the at least one belt section; and
providing, by the at least one belt section, the material to a dispense line extending laterally from the spreader machine along a boom of the spreader machine.
PCT/US2019/016908 2018-02-06 2019-02-06 Sectional control belt WO2019157094A1 (en)

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US62/626,971 2018-02-06

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Citations (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
EP0218813A2 (en) * 1985-10-15 1987-04-22 Amazonen-Werke H. Dreyer GmbH & Co. KG Pneumatic fertilizer spreader
EP0219015A2 (en) * 1985-10-05 1987-04-22 Amazonen-Werke H. Dreyer GmbH & Co. KG Spreader, especially a pneumatic fertilizer spreader
US5950933A (en) * 1998-01-29 1999-09-14 Balmer; Charles Apparatus for spreading particulate materials having different components
US6216614B1 (en) * 1999-04-28 2001-04-17 Ag-Chem Equipment Co., Inc. Boom dispensing point control system
US20180002112A1 (en) * 2016-06-29 2018-01-04 Agco Corporation Roller for side-by-side conveyor

Patent Citations (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
EP0219015A2 (en) * 1985-10-05 1987-04-22 Amazonen-Werke H. Dreyer GmbH & Co. KG Spreader, especially a pneumatic fertilizer spreader
EP0218813A2 (en) * 1985-10-15 1987-04-22 Amazonen-Werke H. Dreyer GmbH & Co. KG Pneumatic fertilizer spreader
US5950933A (en) * 1998-01-29 1999-09-14 Balmer; Charles Apparatus for spreading particulate materials having different components
US6216614B1 (en) * 1999-04-28 2001-04-17 Ag-Chem Equipment Co., Inc. Boom dispensing point control system
US20180002112A1 (en) * 2016-06-29 2018-01-04 Agco Corporation Roller for side-by-side conveyor

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