5 farm trailers: Which is best for the job?

Anyone at this year’s Lamma or Sima shows can’t have missed the fact that trailers have gone through something of a transformation in the past couple of years.

Where once your money bought you a rear-hinged metal box, a chunky ram and a quartet of wheels, manufacturers can now offer ejector trailers, walking floors, rubber conveyors and front-hinged bodies. In fact some trailers will now set you back £120,000.

See also: Six top trailers at Lamma 2015

Why is this happening now?

As machinery gets larger, it’s increasingly the trailers that are the limiting factor on output. In a typical 10- to 12-hour day a 12m combine can harvest 700t of wheat, a big beet harvester can build a 1,650t pile of beet and a full-sized, self-propelled forager can chop a massive 2,000t of grass.

That means well-organised logistics are needed and a good way to achieve that is to use specialised trailers.

Other factors are helping to push up trailer sizes too. Growers are increasingly prepared to buy specialist trailers because it speeds up their operation. Also, legislation is changing to allow bigger trailers to legally take to UK roads.

Add to that increasing concerns about soil compaction, better availability of big tyres, more biogas plants and the need to keep mud off the road and you can see the appeal of a big trailer.

1. Chaser trailers with auger/elevator

Grain chasers have been around for 20 years and each year attract new converts.

More recently, sugar beet chasers have started gaining traction following wet winters.

The latest variants on this are maize and grass transfer wagons that blow the material into lorries.

Hawe-Wester SUW 4000

  • Price £75,000
  • Air brakes
  • Twin axle
  • Tyres 700/50 x R26.5
  • Load 45cu m, total weight 23t
  • Unloading capacity 9-11cu m/min (maize)

Hawe chaser trailer with auger/elevator 

Pros

✔ High-pressure blower compresses material into the bulker trailer

✔ Can be used to take material from the clamp back into an AD plant feed hopper

✔ Heavy-duty construction

Cons

✘ Limited crop range

2. Ejector trailers

Ejector trailers have a moving headboard that compresses material, allowing a greater weight and volume to be carried.

They’re commonplace on the Continent and UK producers are playing catch-up.

There are several British-based manufacturers and Buckinghamshire maker K-Two is a good example.

Its Rodeo range has capacities from 27-41cu m and customers use them mainly for silage, maize for anaerobic digesters, woodchip and even purely for grain where low buildings rule out the use of a conventional trailer.

K-Two says it didn’t originally foresee the last of these benefits, though it is getting more enquiries from customers who have height restrictions but still want the benefit of a larger trailer.  

K-Two Rodeo HP1800

  • Price £37,500
  • Twin axle
  • Air brakes
  • Tyres 560/60 R22.5
  • Tare weight 6,300kg
  • Load 20,000kg

 

K-Two Rodeo HP1800 ejector trailer

Pros

✔ Absence of tipping body gives good stability

✔ Ideal for low-density crops such as grass and maize

✔ Can unload in low buildings

✔ Pushes the material out

✔ Rear tailgate can be switched to turn the trailer into a muckspreader

Cons

✘ Doesn’t suit all crops, particularly ones liable to bruise

✘ Push mechanism is potentially high maintenance

3. Hook-lift trailers

These use one chassis for two or three boxes, saving shelling out for multiple chassis. They are heavily built machines, but haven’t got a strong following in the UK yet.

Stronga HL260TXL

  • Prices from £45,000
  • Air brakes
  • Triaxle
  • Tyres 560/60 R22.5
  • Capacity 26t

Stronga HL260TXL hook-lift trailer

Pros

✔ Very flexible system, extra boxes can buffer delays in trailers arriving

✔ Carry a wide range of crops

✔ One chassis can serve multiple boxes

Cons

✘ High tare weight

✘ Risk of tipping material off when loading

4. Walking floor trailers

Walking floor trailers have been used in potato bulkers for years but are now are creeping into farm trailers. The main difference between these and the ejector type is there’s less compression of crop and handling is softer.

Krampe’s Bandit range is a good example. Their conveyor floor can move in both directions – useful for loading as well as unloading.

Krampe Bandit 760

  • Price £40,750
  • Air brakes
  • Ball coupling
  • Twin axle
  • Tyres 600/55 R26.5
  • Tare weight 8,500kg
  • Load 22,000kg
  • Unloading time 55sec

Krampe Bandit walking-floor trailer

Pros

✔ Non-tipping body gives good stability

✔ Can unload in low buildings

✔ Wide range of crops handled

✔ Faster unloading time than tippers or ejectors

Cons

✘ Untested in the UK

✘ Floor needs maintenance

5. Forwarding high-tip trailers

These trailers are hinged from the front and allow direct discharge into an articulated lorry or trailer waiting on the headland. The unloading mechanism can either be walking floor (such as Niagri) or ejector (such as Larrington).

Niagri, a root-harvester specialist, has sold a forwarding trailer to a Yorkshire customer who uses it earlier in the season for potatoes and then for sugar beet. Other makers include Demmler (marketed by Rolland) and Belgian firm Dezeure, which were also at Lamma.

Niagri forwarding trailer

  • Price £76,000
  • Air brakes
  • Twin axle
  • Tyres 700/40 x R22.5
  • Tare weight 9t
  • Load 15t
  • Unloading height up to 4.4m

Niagri forwarding high-tip trailer

Pros

✔ Keeps mud in the field

✔ More stable than high-tip trailers, which max out at about 10t

✔ Can load in low buildings

✔ Allows use of trucks

Cons

✘ Not for the inexperienced driver

✘ Highly specialised, require the right conditions

Other trailer developments

  • Truck-pulled trailers. Agro trucks, as they are called, which can pull all of the trailer types mentioned here, are inching their way into UK fields. They are typically 4×4 or 6×6 road trucks equipped with field tyres and a pto. Their advantages are faster transport speeds, higher capacities and lower fuel costs on longer runs. Iveco’s Trakker (pictured below), Benz’s Zetros and Tatra’s Agro are all examples.

Iveco-Trakker-6wd-truck

  • What about tracks? With a clearer divide between in-field and on-road trailers, tracks could be set to make more of a showing in the UK. They’re widely used in the US and Australia for big grain chasers and French firm Brochard has a whopping 45cu m grain chaser. Horsch, meanwhile, is experimenting with a dolly system that carries a complete bulker on a tracked frame.
  • How much do they cost? A top-of-the-range conventional 20t grain trailer or root trailer with air brakes, full lighting package, ball hitch and flotation tyres costs about £33,000. A 20t ejector trailer adds £38,000 to that. Adding an extra axle and more capacity brings the total to about £45,0000. Reckon on £75,000 for a forwarding high-tip trailer.