Strautmann Giga III loader wagon
The Strautmann loader wagon is a robust, easy-to-use machine with relatively low operating costs and impressive packing ability
- Axle system makes it easy to tow
- Able to pack load in very tight
- Double-edged knives are convenient
- Unloading is very quick
- Handles speeds of 15-18kph
Loader wagons are an ideal machine for harvesting grass silage where the stack is nearby, and in small paddocks where access for forage harvesters and trucks is difficult.
In recent years larger capacity machines and 50km/h plus tractors have seen loader wagons operating in areas traditionally serviced by forage harvesters as a more economical way to harvest silage.
Rangiora contractors, Ree and Ken Robertson, added two Strautmann Giga III loader wagons to their silage operation three seasons back. While the capital outlay of the two Strautmanns and the two JCB Fastracs was similar to a new forage harvester and some trucks, the operating costs have been significantly less, they don’t get stuck and the Fastracs are available for baling and cultivation when not on silage.
Coupled up to a 3190 Fastrac, I spent about 15-16 hours on a mixture of lucerne with a road cart of about 6km and grass about 2km from the stack. This gave me the chance to test the Strautmann over differing conditions with the lucerne on riverbed country and the grass on the Mairaki Downs.
Cubic capacity is 38m3 to the top of the sides, and by using the manual loading pushing the grass above the sides probably adds another five cubes, giving about 43m3. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to have the wagon loaded by a forage harvester and then weighed to try and get a comparison between the packing ability of the two.
Even though some of the newer forage harvesters blow grass into a bin very well, they don’t come close to the packing ability of the Strautmann, and I would guess that at the density of forage harvester-blown grass you would probably need in excess of a 50m3 bin to fit the 43m3 of packed Strautmann grass.
The rotary cutter head feeds the grass past the stationary knives and packs it into the wagon. The monitor has two options for loading, either manual or automatic.
Using the manual mode seems to be the way to get the best load, by allowing the grass to build up to the top until the tractor is working hard, and then advancing the floor to relieve the pressure of the grass above the head until the tractor labours again. This repeats until loaded. When it reaches the back door a pressure sensor activates an alarm on the monitor indicating a full load.
In the auto mode the grass pushes against the top flap and the floor is advanced until the flap drops, then the cycle repeats, however you cannot get a proper load in as the floor moves before the grass is tight enough.
I had the chance to compare the loading with a loader wagon of another brand and found that the back door sensor allows you to pressurise the grass against the door as it doesn’t cut out the floor drive. This is done for about 10 beeps on the monitor and means you can get a very full load.
Another important comparison was the Strautmann’s ability to pack the grass in considerably tighter than the other machine, which was a year younger and has done a lot less work.
During my test I found that the Strautmann would be able to stall the tractor if you let it, where as the other machine, with a 200hp horsepower Claas tractor in front, tripped the slip clutch a lot earlier and so didn’t pack the load as tight.
The pick-up feeds the crop in well and I had no blockages during the test, and depending on the row it handles speeds of 15-18km/h no problem.
A great feature of the cutter head is that it has double-edged knives so that when the knives get dull part-way through the day and are not cutting properly you can simply reverse them. This saves carrying another set of knives and can be achieved in 15-20 minutes.
The whole knife bank is lowered hydraulically, giving easy access.
The knives are protected from damage via a spring loaded system, which allows the knife to move back as an object pass’s through.
Knife spacing is about 35mm although the cut length varies depending on how the grass goes through the knives and the slightly longer chop should mean less wastage. We were picking up grouped rows from a triple mower so the cut may have been different if the grass had been rowed with a swather or vee rake.
The rotary head is of a similar design to that found in all makes of loader wagons and balers and is constructed in a spiral pattern.
Drive is by way of a heavy gearbox to the rotor with a shaft drive to the pick-up.
Unloading is very quick, with the floor having two speeds so that you can switch to the higher speed when partly unloaded to clear the floor.
One of the stand-out features of this machine is its axle system. It is fitted with a sprung bogie axle with a steering rear axle, which makes the big loader wagon as easy as a single axle trailer to tow. In the paddock and around the stack with the steering activated there is no scuffing of the ground and a lot less load on axle components.
On the road the wagon sits very well even around 60-70km/h and handles bumps and potholes well as long as you have locked out the steering.
Both axles are braked using a standard tractor brake coupling and work very well in combination with the Fastrac.
Track width is about 2.7m to the outside of the tyres, but with so much weight up high you still have to be careful on slopes as the wagon can lurch about.