The Vervaet brand is well-known within the sugar beet industry as one of the leading manufacturers
The Vervaet brand is well-known within the sugar beet industry as one of the leading manufacturers of self-propelled harvesters, but its product range also includes a specialist low ground pressure tool carrier which, equipped with a high capacity spreader body, offers high outputs and precise application. David Williams reports.
The Hydro Trike has found considerable success since it was introduced to the mainland European market in 1990 and more than 600 machines are working for contractors and on large farms, most with tanker bodies used for slurry injection. It has a 465hp DAF engine and a selection of interchangeable bodies available to fit to the chassis, with applications including slurry spreading, chalk spreading and in-field transport.
The tricycle design spreads the weight evenly across the machine’s width but, on the XL version, an additional centre axle shares the load and extends out beyond the standard wheels to spread the weight over a greater surface area. The centre axle has active steering and the front single wheel is powered, which allows it to be turned to 90 degrees, for a very tight turning circle without creating ridges at the headlands.
The driven front wheel and steering centre axle allow the spreader to turn almost within its own length so the operator can turn back against the previous bout, so less time is wasted on headlands.
The three main wheels all have on-the-move pressure adjustment allowing ground pressure to be optimised for the load and the centre axle has fixed tyre pressures, but automatic working pressure adjustment is provided by the same double-acting rams which lift the axle while it is being extended or retracted.
The hydrostatic transmission provides infinite travel speed adjustment and there are two ranges; work and transport, the high speed range giving 40kph capability.
Growing demand for high capacity low ground pressure machines for application of digestate has meant the Vervaet machine has attracted considerable interest in recent years and Vervaet has worked with spreader manufacturer Panien to develop a spreader body specifically for the Trike.
The centre axle is lifted and lowered by a double-acting hydraulic ram. In work mode the centre axle works in conjunction with the large front and rear tyres and an automatic pressure control system to distribute weight equally.
“By developing the body together, the two manufacturers have ensured maximum performance, from the capacity and distribution of weight, to its control systems and spread performance,” explained UK importer Jeremy Riley’s Vervaet product specialist Henry Baker.
Capacity is 20m3 and weigh cells on each corner monitor the load. A hydraulic rear door combined with a conveyor floor adjusts spread rate and the material is fed through two banks of shredders to the twin spreading discs below.
The demonstration included application of digestate from a local AD plant as well as long-strawed farmyard manure and the quality of spread achieved while applying both products was very good.
The digestate was clean and easy to apply, and ideally suited to the twin-disc system resulting in a fine layer across the field. The amount of straw in the manure made it more of a challenge, especially when combined with a large amount of soil and stones scooped up while clearing the last of the heap from the field but the beaters shredded the straw thoroughly and the result was an impressively fine spread quality and even application.
A reversible floor is standard, making it easy to clear blockages when spreading difficult materials at high rates and allowing operators to confidently optimise performance in all conditions.
Spread rate and width is controlled automatically using a touch-screen developed specially by the manufacturer. To set the application rate, the operator simply selects the density of the material and the desired rate and the machine does the rest.
An additional feature is boundary-spreading mode in which the spread width is automatically reduced to match the work area.
The spreader’s ability to handle products from the fine digestate to the demanding manure means it will fulfil multiple roles, and Vervaet product specialist Jonathan Hoekman explained that tests spreading chalk products have also been successful, and will ensure contractors can maximise use of the machine throughout the year.
Just 10 of the Hydro Trike spreader combinations have been built so far and all have been working in test environments, mainly in France. The demonstration attended by Farmers Guide was one of several arranged in late March to allow potential UK users to see the machine at work, during a one-week visit before returning to Holland to continue its testing. Henry commented that the opportunity to see it in action had been greeted enthusiastically by potential users.
“There is a significant demand for a professional specification applicator, particularly for application of digestate and slurry from AD plants as well as for chalk and manure,” he explained. “The Terragator was a traditional solution for many years but as this machine is no longer available, users are looking at alternatives. Our product provides high capacity, ease of use, accuracy of application and high travel speeds between sites and we expect it to sell in large numbers.
The spreader handled straw-laden manure with relative ease achieving a decent spread pattern while the digestate was applied in an even mat across the field.
“We already support Vervaet harvesters nationwide, but are gearing up in terms of parts stock and engineer training to make sure we can offer the same high standard of service for the Hydro Trike. “The spreaders will be available to purchase during 2016 and customer feedback suggests that they will be ideally-suited to UK use,” he added.
The Claas cab provides plenty of space and comfort and the new touch-screen control incorporates software developed specifically for the new spreader ensuring precise application.
Pictured with the Hydro Trike-based spreader are (l-r) James Riley, Vervaet representative Jonathan Hoekman and Henry Baker.