14 September 2001

Trailer pulls the stops out on route from field to processor

By Andy Moore

A NEW bagging system could revolutionise the way high quality potatoes are transported from field to processor.

The result of two years development between Haith-Tickhill and the Higgins Group, the bagging trailer collects and bags the crop directly from the harvester, allowing the bagged potatoes to be transported directly by lorry to the processor. This could reduce haulage costs compared with the crop being ferried from field to farm and then to the processor.

The trailer has a central reception hopper divided into 10 funnelled hoppers, five each side of the body. Each can hold up to 1.3t of crop and is fitted with a bag underneath held on two bars.

In operation, the reception hopper is held in its lowered position while it is filled from the harvester, the empty bags fold beneath it.

Once full, the trailer is towed to the headland or a suitable hard-standing area where the upper body is raised by four hydraulic rams powered by an onboard pto-driven system.

As the body is raised, potatoes gently fall into their respective bags and when full, the bags retaining arms extend outwards from beneath the hopper to place the bags on the ground beside the trailer. The arms then retract and new empty bags are fitted before the hopper is lowered again for the filling operation to recommence.

Trailer turnaround time is claimed to take about six minutes to complete, and 20 bags are said to be sufficient to fill a 40t lorry.

To enable bags to be unloaded at the processor or farm, the Haith-Tickhill Group has also developed an electric motor-driven bag tipper. It consists of a large wheel with two platforms which rotate forwards to allow a bag and its contents to be emptied.

Price for the bag filling trailer and tipper, which have a European patent applied for, are £30,000 and £25,000. &#42