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VIDEO: First Drive - technology advances for Vicon trailed sprayers

Following customer demand for a tech-loaded sprayer, Vicon answered the call and introduced the iXtrack T4.

 

Alex Heath went to see it in action at its UK launch...

Crop protection and grassland specialist Vicon recently held the launch of its updated range of trailed and mounted sprayers.

 

While the iXtrack T3 trailed sprayer was the first in the revamped range to be launched at Agritechnica in 2017, the T4 is a new addition.

 

David Furber, sales manager for the company, explains after the acquisition of several spraying technology companies, such as Alli and Rau, growers had lots of options, but the range lacked consistency.

 

 

After petitioning growers for their requirements, more automation and a self-propelled level of technology as shown in the T3 was required, but in an altogether bigger package, prompting the development of the T4. This sees the new T4 available with tank sizes of 3,400, 4,000 and 4,600 litres, with aluminium boom widths up to 33 metres and steel up to 40m.

 

Designed from the ground up, the new T4 range is largely based on the same components and design as the T3. The company says work is underway with the development of a bigger range, the T6, as it sees customers moving away from self-propelled units.

 

There are no details on when it will be available, however, tank sizes up to 7,600 litres are likely.


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SPRAY PACK

SPRAY PACK

MUCH of the new machine development has focused on liquid management and the systems for chemical induction, pumping and cleaning.

 

The company says a lot of its focus was on eliminating rest areas in the tanks, hoses and valves that chemical could sit in, leading to longer cleaning procedures and risk of crop contamination.

 

The chemical induction hopper now features three nozzles at the top of the hopper, which both clean and mix in a swirling motion.

 

There is a powder agitation nozzle on the base of the hopper which creates a bubbling effect to keep powder in suspension.

 

Situated on the left-hand side of the machine next to all the sprayer controls, it tucks neatly into the main tank on a power assisted ram which brings the filling height to a safe and convenient height.

 

Also inside the panel is a locker for PPE.

 

The company has called its cleaning system iXclean and is available in three variations, starting with the most basic, featuring fully mechanical level indicator, suction valve and pressure valve.

 

All variations feature the company’s Environmental Focus cleaning system (ENFO), which primes and cleans the individual spray lines, before diluting residuals left in the tank.

 

Comfort spec allows for more automation to be controlled from the cab, and costs £1,500.

 

Screen

 

Tank levels are displayed on the in-cab screen and an automatic fill stop feature can be programmed to a desired level. The cleaning cycle can be started from the cab, and it features an electric suction valve.

 

Taking automation a step further is the Pro version, with all sprayer functions controlled through the IsoBus terminal.

 

Switching between filling, agitation, spraying, diluting, priming, rinsing and tank cleaning is controlled from the cab. In addition to auto filling, Pro-spec also offers a fully automatic programmed rinsing and cleaning cycle for the entire sprayer.

 

Pushing a single button starts a four-stage, triple cleaning process, which has been designed to be quick and efficient in its water usage.

 

The company says the system is so vigorous, after the cleaning cycle, the concentration of chemical is below 1 per cent.

 

This option costs nearly £4,000.

 

The new range also features the iXflow recirculation system, stopping sediment settling in the lines, but more importantly during work the return line becomes pressurised.

 

The company says this ensures even pressure across the width of the boom.

 

A choice of piston-diaphragm pumps is given, either in four or eight piston configurations, with 200, 260, 400 and 520 litres per minute outputs.

CHASSIS

KEY to the manoeuvrability and stability of the sprayer is its chassis, which has taken design cues from the commercial haulage industry.

 

Instead of being welded together, it is bolted, said to reduce shock loads from being transmitted throughout the frame.

 

Its high strength, low-alloyed steel offers greater flexibility, said to better withstand jolts and jarring from variable field and road conditions.

 

A redesign of the now red plastic tank wraps around the chassis, enabling the centre of gravity to be kept low. The plastic moulding also houses the induction bowl, filling points and pumps.

 

A hydraulic steering axle has been added, offering 32-degrees of movement in each direction.

 

The company says the steering placed on the axle leads to a more stable machine.

 

A potentiometer is recessed into the drawbar, with two cables attached to the tractor.

 

These are attached to a bar which hovers over the sensor and dictates which direction the wheels should be turning.

 

Depending on the track width of the sprayer, the T4 has a turning circle of 5.25 to 5.50 metres, while the T3 turns in 4.15 to 4.40m.

 

Steering is automatically locked when the booms are folded, but can be manually overridden.

 

Track width is changed by using different track rod ends and altering the wheel centres, allowing for spacing in-between 1,500mm and 2,250mm.

 

The mud guards also pivot to the reduce the amount of soiling on the sprayer.

 

Axle and drawbar suspension has also been added to the T4, both of which are currently not available on the T3.

OPERATION

OPERATION

INSIDE the cab, the sprayer is plug and play, with all models able to be run via IsoBus if required, with the appropriate screen.

 

Supplied with the sprayer is the company’s IsoMatch joystick featuring 11 programmable buttons, across four colour-coded levels, allowing up to 44 functions to be controlled with it.

 

Several automated functions have been integrated, easing the operator’s workload, including ErgoDrive Headland management.

 

With the press of a single button, the system stops the spray pump, unlocks the steering and lifts the boom, before the operator makes the turn and reverses the process.

 

The company says prices for a 4,000-litre, 24-metre machine with iXflow Air system will be about £73,800, depending on cleaning and boom levelling apparatus.

BOOMS

BOOMS

ELECTRICALLY controlled Hypro nozzles are available with the iXflow-E package, which while allowing for individual nozzle shut-off, can also be controlled via a smartphone app, which according to the company is ideal for troubleshooting.

 

The sprayers come with section control across seven sections as standard, but with the iXflow Air system, this is extended to 15 sections.

 

Option

 

Connecting the booms to the chassis at the rear of the machine is a suspended parallelogram frame which is active both in the field and on the road.

 

Controlling boom height is the company’s Boom Guide systems which starts off with the Comfort option which make use of two ultra-sonic sensors, at a cost of £4,300.

 

These when run in hybrid mode scan the height of the crop and ground level, creating an average, preventing the boom from diving when bare ground is encountered.

 

The company claims this is suited to gentle slope and lower working speeds, as height is only managed by the lift cylinders and the central slope correction facility.

 

For increased movement, the Pro spec can be opted for, which features an additional ultrasonic sensor in the centre of the machine. This enables each side to be independently controlled with positive or negative movement, and will set you back a further £10,000.

 

For quicker reaction times and more flexibility if spraying at different widths with the outer sections folded, the Pro Active is available, featuring three or an optional five sensors.

 

Terrain

 

This comes as standard with three sensors on all models with booms wider than 33 metres.

 

The company says the sensors on the extremities ensure the booms never come into contact with the ground when on particularly undulating terrain, and again maintain height through positive and negative lateral movement.

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