our flat bed trailer with potato boxes on it

Trailer Types Used in Crop Transportation

When it comes to transporting harvested crops, the type of trailer used plays a critical role in ensuring efficient delivery and preserving the quality of the produce. From potatoes to cereals and swedes, each crop has its specific transportation needs, often dictating the type of trailer employed in the process. In this guide, we explore the various trailers used by farmers for different types of crops and the features that make them indispensable in modern agricultural practices.

Potato Harvesting and Transportation

Potato growers employ two primary methods for harvesting: directly into bulk trailers or boxes. Once harvested, potatoes are transported to the store where they undergo grading and sorting.

For potatoes harvested into boxes, flatbed trailers are commonly used, providing a stable platform for secure transportation.

flatbed box trailer
A Richard Western flatbed potato box trailer on our farm with hydraulic catwalk and flotation tyres.

Bulk trailers are utilised for bulk harvesting, where the potato harvester unloads directly into the bulk trailer, some trailers have additional fall breakers built into the floor of the trailer to protect the crop during harvesting.

Innovative designs include hydraulic-operated walkways to level boxes during harvesting and hydraulically-controlled bars to secure boxes tightly without the need for straps.

Cereal Harvesting and Transport

Cereal growers typically harvest grains directly into bulk trailers, transporting them to the farm for sale or drying.

The straw, a by-product of grain harvesting, is either chopped or baled and carted away using flat trailers with a fixed front and rear metal ladder known as a bale trailer. A new feature added to straw bale trailers are hydraulic sides – this gate lowers for loading and can be lifted up to keep the bales secure during transport without straps.

Hydraulic side on a Bailey bale trailer. Image from Bailey trailers

Some bulk grain trailers will have a rollover cover to keep the grain dry during bad weather. There are many trailer extras which I will cover at the end of this article.

Swede Harvesting and Storage

Swede growers have the flexibility to harvest into boxes on flat trailers or into bulk trailers, depending on their handling preferences and operational requirements. At the storage shed, the swedes are graded and stored according to the farmer’s preference.

The same trailer features used for potato harvesting apply here also, such as flatbed trailer catwalks and box clamps, and bulk trailers with built-in fall breakers. Although I have used Swedes as an example, most vegetable growers will use the same methods to transport their crops.

Transporting Forage Crops

The main type of trailer used to harvest and transport silage grass or any other forage being harvested is a silage trailer.

A 14 tonne Kane Silage Trailer

These have higher sides than a bulk trailer for grain, and they have a large door at the rear which opens out fully when tipped, either mechanically opened by a latch or by a hydraulic ram.

The transport of bales, either square or round takes place using a flatbed bale trailer.

Trailer Innovation and Customisation

As farms expand in size and scale, trailers tend to become more elaborate and tailored to specific needs. The sophistication of trailers often corresponds with the size of the operation, with larger and newer trailers offering advanced features for improved efficiency and convenience.

richard western trailer sprung drawbar
The sprung drawbar on the Richard Western trailer.

Here are some key features and innovations found in trailers used for crop transportation:

  • Roll-over Covers: Provide protection from adverse weather conditions, keeping crops dry and secure during transit. These roll-out covers can be fitted to bulk trailers, but can also be specified as an attachment for rolling over boxes on a flat trailer.
  • Fast Tow Axles: Enhance towing efficiency, allowing for smoother and more stable transportation of crops. These are used with tractors capable for travelling over 50km/hr such as JCB fastracs and some Fendts.
  • Hydraulic or Air Trailer Brakes: |Most trailer manufacturers nowadays will have hydraulic brakes as standard however many larger, faster-moving trailers can be equipped with higher-performing air brakes which most large modern tractors will have fitted as standard.
  • Floatation Tyres: These minimise soil compaction during harvesting and make the trailer easier to pull in wet conditions.
  • Flashing Beacons and Side Marker Lights: Enhance visibility on the road, improving safety for both drivers and other road users.
  • Sprung Drawbars: Large trailers carrying heavy loads can make travel on bumpy roads dangerous with a fixed drawbar, a sprung drawbar absorbs shocks and vibrations during transportation, reducing stress on the trailer and towing vehicle.

These improvements in trailer design are all about making crop transportation safer, more efficient, and better overall. By using trailers with these features, farmers can move their produce from the farm to storage or market in a timely, safe manner.

Trailers play a crucial role during harvesting and transportation of crops, they offer farmers versatility and efficiency in moving large amounts of produce from field to farm storage. By matching the trailer to the way they harvest their crops they can optimise the speed and safety at which the crop is brought home from the fields.