IT LOOKS quite an odd machine, but Dutch company Vervaet has just announced a new five-wheel-drive version of its self-propelled 'trike' spreader.

Improved traction with the 5 x 5 drive system it is currently testing is such that this new option will be available for 2021 via UK importer J Riley Beet Harvesters (UK). This new all-wheel-drive configuration will be particularly advantageous when working on hilly terrain, said a spokesman for the importers.

From a distance, it doesn’t look much different to Vervaet's Hydro Trike, but the main new features are the optional driven mid-wheels and a completely renewed powertrain. This incorporates fully electronic traction control, an electronically controlled flow divider between the front wheel drive and rear axle and larger diameter hydraulic pipes.

The mid-axle comes with a new stabilisation and suspension system for better operator comfort, with the power and traction spread across 4.5m, perfect for stability on steep hills. The even ground pressure across the full 4.5m width provided by the additional driven mid-axle means that fertiliser application is now possible on hillsides where the trike version had struggled before.

The company’s new drive system, VSG uses two hydraulic motors to power the rear axle and these are interconnected by a wet plate clutch so that both provide drive when the machine is accelerating and during field-work when the pumps provide high oil volumes for maximum power.

Once up to speed the machine’s electronics control oil flow so that the second motor only provides power as and when required. When on the road, the system automatically disengages one of the motors. It also means that the 40kph top speed can be reached with the engine running at just 1200rpm rather than at 1400rpm.

Vervaet's clever traction control system is also now fully electronic, rather than manually set. Sensors measure each wheel’s speed and send more oil to the wheel with most traction, which also automatically controls the mid-axle’s ground pressure, so that if the rear wheels slip it puts more weight on them by slightly raising the mid-axle.

Drive to the mid-axle's wheels is provided by a self-contained system with a 175-litre per-minute hydraulic pump capable of providing an impressive 130hp.

There's also a new three-point suspension system to replace the leaf spring, with repositioned shock absorbers at the front of the axle. An inclination sensor, which detects whether the machine is on a side-hill, allows the system to automatically lock the suspension on the 'down' side.

The new model also heralds the arrival of the latest 530hp Paccar engines which will be fitted as standard across the self-propelled ranges from next season. There is also an improved touchscreen display inside the cab.