17 October 1998

PRECISELY DOES IT

The range of machines capable of dovetailing into a precision farming system has been extended by the latest addition to the Vicon range of fertiliser spreaders. David Millar reports.

WHY pay near enough double the going rate for a quality tractor-mounted spreader? When the pay off is control over what goes on the field and where, thats why.

Vicon – formerly trading as Greenland – believes there are enough growers now either committed to the precision route, or ready to move across, to warrant paying from just under £10,000 for a new flagship twin disc Rotaflow spreader, the RS-XL. For businesses paying maybe £50,000 in fertiliser bills, the extra cost of a spreader with full global positioning system compatibility is easily justified by the new found ability to vary application rates according to precision map guidelines.

The RS-XL EDW spreader comes with a choice of 2,000-, 2,600- or 3,000-litre hoppers, priced from £9,845. For that, the grower is getting a spreader with five weigh cells – four constantly weighing the hopper and its contents, the fifth as a correction sensor – allowing accurate recording of contents within a 5% margin of error, regardless of ground terrain.

Computerised control makes the operators task easier, according to Tim Baker, Vicons technical manager. Calibration is simply a case of entering the target flow rate for the fertiliser being used into the control box. In the first 30 seconds of moving the tractor forward, the control box calculates rate correction automatically. The flow rate of the fertiliser is then continuously checked and adjusted against the desired rate following an application map with instructions for variable rates. The actual spreading rate is visible in the cab as the machine is working.

Vicon, which has many years of experience with electronic control systems, has developed this latest machine in conjunction with the Massey Ferguson Fieldstar terminal but it has been equipped with industry-standard connections so it will operate with other popular systems. This should have the advantage of helping maintain second-hand values of such spreaders. The company intends to pursue this compatibility policy with future machines.

A further new introduction to the Vicon range is a compact twin disc model, designed as an entry model for growers seeking a 9-18m spreading width, and the ability work free of any hillside effect. The RS-C at £2,215 slots into the range above the Varispreader range but below the companys other twin disc models. Standard hopper capacity of the RS-C is 650 litres but a 1,200-litre version is available for £2,465.

The Market Drayton-based company, which was taken over last year by Kverneland, is also extending its range of new mower conditioners by replacing the Vicon AMS models with new DMP TC mower conditioners, priced at £7,750 for the 2.4m 2401 and £8,250 for the 3m 3001 model which operates with a 90hp tractor. These lightweight models retain Vicons familiar, three-bladed cutting discs.

&#8226 Vicon, Adderley Road, Market Drayton, Shropshire TF9 3SG. (01630 653501).