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Spreading efficiency

Utility district partners with Ag Equipment USA to purchase BBI Salford spreader that helps better manage byproduct transport
Story by Chris Villines, photos by Sarah Geyer and Chris Villines 4/25/2019


During a demo day at Ag Equipment USA Manager Trey Smith’s farm in Lascassas, Consolidated Utility District of Rutherford County (CUDRC) officials got a firsthand look at the BBI Salford Endurance spreader the utility would ultimately purchase to evenly distribute water purification byproduct from CUDRC’s K. Thomas Hutchinson Water Treatment Plant. The pans in the photo were used to test the evenness of the spread pattern.
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There had to be a better way.

Officials with Consolidated Utility District of Rutherford County (CUDRC) were seeking a solution to improve the efficiency of transporting “sludge,” a carbon-rich natural byproduct of the water purification process, at the K. Thomas Hutchinson Water Treatment Plant near Murfreesboro.

The method being employed, plant staff and CUDRC board members agreed, was inefficient and not environmentally friendly. Byproduct was loaded into dump trucks each weekday and moved to a five-acre area behind the plant. Once offloaded, the sludge pile would be graded by a bulldozer to free up more room for subsequent loads.

“By dumping the sludge, we had to handle it more than once, creating inefficiencies,” explains Chris Forte, manager of the K. Thomas Hutchinson Water Treatment Plant. “We started looking into alternatives.”

CUDRC’s investigation ultimately led them to Co-op’s Ag Equipment USA division and its manager, Trey Smith, who proposed a solution — the use of a BBI Salford Endurance pull-type high-profile spreader to evenly disperse product across a greater area. And with the spreader’s large capacity, byproduct transport would be trimmed from every day to once every two days.

Smith not only wanted the CUDRC officials to hear about the benefits of the BBI Salford spreader, he also wanted them to see it in action. This past summer, he invited them out to his farm in Lascassas for a demonstration of the machine.

“We got fresh byproduct and dispersed it in a 40-foot swath on a two-acre field,” says Smith. “Once they witnessed the spreader in action and saw how it spread evenly, they were convinced this was the route they needed to take. The demo exceeded everybody’s expectations.”

Working with Ag Equipment USA, CUDRC determined the BBI Salford Endurance spreader was the lowest priced unit that met all needed specifications. The Endurance is available in sizes ranging from 10-24 feet, and after consulting with Smith and Ag Equipment USA outside salesman Trey Hodge, CUDRC selected the 24-foot option with a 14-ton walking beam earlier this year.

“This model has a rotary spinner that’s versatile,” says Hodge, who delivered the spreader and performed its initial setup. “They can regulate the speed of spreading according to need. This helps them avoid daily trips to the dumping area, and there’s no need for bulldozers to spread piles.”

Marlan Pelham, senior operator at the water treatment plant, calls the spreader purchase a “smart answer” to the question of what to substitute for dump trucks.

“The new spreader increases the surface area of the sludge, which helps it dry faster,” says Pelham. “Plus, you don’t have to have a CDL (commercial driver’s license) to drive the spreader. So anyone from our staff can handle it.”

The new spreader offers an upgrade to the plant in terms of cost, time, and manpower, which helps the plant maintain its Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compliance by reducing its footprint in the byproduct deposit area. That area has now been increased to 30 acres that CUDRC purchased across from the water treatment plant.

“With the plant doubling its water treatment capacity to 32 million gallons, dumping the sludge would have only become a bigger and bigger problem,” Smith says. “Now, they have the acreage across from the plant where they can take product and use as an application field.”

And he adds that one of the most satisfying aspects of this project has been meeting the needs of a customer beyond the agricultural sector.

“We want to be involved in our local communities whenever we can, whether it’s on the farm or helping our local water utility be good stewards of the environment,” says Smith. “Sometimes, you have to think outside the box and be innovative to help grow your business, and that’s what we did with CUDRC. It’s proof that Ag Equipment USA is always looking for ways to diversify our customer base and make our business even better.”

For more information on BBI Salford spreaders, visit or contact Ag Equipment USA at 1-800-836-6075.

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