Ploeger is little known here in Ireland, yet it is a company that operates globally in providing specialist harvesting and spreading equipment, and has done so since 1959.
Up until now, its spreading machines have either had three or five wheels. By using an individual nose wheel, the very tightest of turns may be undertaken on the headlands.
The addition of a four-wheel-drive model to the range marks a radical departure from this philosophy.
This latest machine, named the AT4103, would appear to be intended primarily for slurry injection where good traction is essential.
Four wheels might make turning in the length of the vehicle impossible, yet it does present an opportunity to spread the weight further than a tricycle arrangement, in addition to offering greater pulling power.
Manoeuvrability may be comprised, but with the provision of all wheel steering, including the ability to crab, this disadvantage is somewhat mitigated.
Overall it probably would not be greatly to the detriment of its operation in the field.
The spreader is powered by a Scania inline six-cylinder engine. Drive to the rear wheels is via a ZF constantly variable transmission, which powers a mechanical shaft connected to two pumps, sited as close to the drive motors as possible.
By reducing the hydraulic pipe length, the company claims to offer the lowest fuel consumption for this type of vehicle in the industry.
During road transport, the rear axle steering mechanism is deactivated when travelling above 25km/hr.
Tyre size is a matter of customer choice. Options range from the highest at 1000/65R32, to the widest 1250/50R32 tyre.
Weight distribution is said to be optimised by shaping the polyester tank so it is narrower at the front end. The position of the engine in relation to the wheelbase is also said to be calculated to ensure the weight is evenly spread.
Another branch of the Ploeger philosophy is paying attention to reducing loading times.
Long suction pipes will increase resistance to flow, so the macerator is sited directly below the suction inlet which reduces the length of the suction line. There is also the option of its ‘Superload’ arm, which is said to make loading quicker.
This being a machine that is only entering final field trials, not all the specifications have been finalised. Yet some smaller details have been nailed down, including the 850L fuel tank and the 60L AdBlue reservoir.