The advantages of a hydraulic drive for silage spreaders

Updated on:
December 11, 2023
Silage loading technology
Karoline Glöckner


Silage spreaders have been well established in harvesting technology for many years. They not only help to increase forage quality through homogeneous distribution, but also ensure increased impact force in the silo. Although the majority of implements are still driven by tractor PTO, the popularity of hydraulic drive for silage spreaders in combination with wheel loaders is steadily increasing. In this article, we therefore devote ourselves entirely to the hydraulic drive and look at the function and mode of operation of the oil motor. We also talk about the advantages of this type of drive and give you interesting examples of the possible applications of silage spreaders with hydraulic drive. Finally, there are even expert tips on this subject from our importer in Holland. So read on right away and don’t miss anything!

Function and mode of operation of a hydraulic drive for silage spreaders

In order to be able to describe the hydraulic drive of the silage spreader, we have to go a little further into the design of our distribution technology at the beginning: Generally, the MAMMUT silage spreaders of the SILO FOX series are driven with a large dimensioned gearbox. The size of the gearbox is of course adapted to the model size of the distributor in order to be able to guarantee a sufficient throughput when entering the feed pile. In the standard version, the silage spreader is driven by the tractor’s power take-off shaft, so that the output shaft in the unit starts to rotate. A horizontal, robust hexagonal shaft inside the machine now transmits the power to the two drums and the distribution process takes its course. If a hydraulic drive is used on the silage spreader instead of the standard PTO drive, an oil motor is installed in front of the input shaft and fixed securely to the implement with a mounting plate. This motor is driven – as the name suggests – via the hydraulic hoses by means of hydraulic oil from the carrier vehicle. The rest of the distributor’s mode of operation remains the same, of course.

All MAMMUT silage spreaders are equipped with an overload protection (star ratchet) as standard. Depending on the equipment, the star ratchet is usually located between the main gearbox and the reversing gearbox and protects the gearbox from overload during operation. Since a hydraulic drive also requires protection, a freewheel is installed. This freewheel is a clutch that works in one direction of rotation and prevents jerky braking of the drum when the oil flow is stopped.

Hydraulic drive for the silage spreader

Wheel loader with SILO FOX SF 280 Gigant (Image: Trekkerfotografie)

Advantages and disadvantages of a hydraulic drive

The oil motor drive for the silage spreader naturally has advantages in practice for certain requirements. Especially the use in combination with a wheel loader or telescopic loader is becoming more and more popular in agricultural use. However, this equipment variant also has disadvantages – here we give you a brief overview of the advantages and disadvantages of the hydraulic drive:

Improving efficiency & productivity through silage spreaders with hydraulic drive

If you take a close look at the ensiling processes, you quickly realise that the bottleneck is often the work in the silo: Large quantities of fodder are delivered in a short time. This is a challenge, especially on rounded areas, when the loading wagons or push-off wagons arrive almost every minute. The driver in the silo usually works under time pressure in order to be able to distribute and compact the forage layers evenly.

The issues of efficiency and productivity should therefore be taken seriously when harvesting silage. We explain here why a silage spreader with hydraulic drive makes sense for some farms and how it can contribute to increasing efficiency.

First of all, however, we would like to mention that the majority of our silage spreaders are still equipped with a PTO drive and that this drive variant is still the most popular form of fodder distribution in the mobile silo in Central Europe. However, if one observes the trend in the use of wheel loaders in agriculture, one should also take a closer look at the harvesting use of these carrier vehicles: Since the wheel loader or telescopic loader is often purchased specifically for daily feeding and feeding the feed mixer on the farm, it is naturally a logical next step to use this wheel loader in harvesting as well, for example. The hydraulic drive on the silage spreader therefore makes it possible to use the machine on the wheel loader as well, thus expanding the vehicle’s range of applications.

The productivity of the silage process can be increased with a silage spreader mounted on the wheel loader, if the technology is handled correctly: With joystick, articulated steering and the good overview on a wheel loader, you are often even more flexible than with a conventional tractor. It is possible to react more quickly when manoeuvring inside or outside the silo. The silage spreader is therefore immediately ready for use without much effort and standing times are effectively minimised. If one also considers the often very high operating weight of the loaders used – sometimes even with twin tyres – the subsequent rolling process can also be facilitated immediately. In many cases, however, it is also common to use a second tractor with silo spreader and silage roller in addition to the wheel loader. The efficiency of the farm’s own wheel loader in combination with the contractor’s silage team, for example, is thus maximised and the harvested fodder quantities are placed in the silo in the best quality.

Images: Trekkerfotografie

Examples of silage spreaders with hydraulic drive

Pictures say more than a thousand words – don’t they? That’s exactly why we’ve put together a few examples for you here: You can see a wide variety of wheel loader models in operation in Holland. The silage spreaders used are all equipped with a hydraulic drive.

Play Video

Video: Trekkerfotografie
Pictures first row: Trekkerfotografie
Pictures second row: Landbouwpowers

Our partner Bonne Wiersma in an expert interview

He is the man who probably knows the most about silo spreaders with hydraulic drive: Bonne Wiersma. Bonne has been part of our team since 2012 and has represented our technology in the Netherlands ever since. Thanks to Mammut Nederland – our importer in Holland – the MAMMUT brand is very popular and well established there. Many farmers have been relying on silage technology from Austria for many years. Above all, the silage spreaders, which have written a real success story there thanks to Bonne’s commitment and thanks to many enthusiastic farmers.

Today we take the opportunity for an exclusive expert interview with Bonne Wiersma. Silage spreaders on wheel loaders are common practice in Holland – it would be hard to imagine most farms there harvesting forage without a wheel loader. We wanted to know why this is so and what tips Bonne can give us on silage spreaders with hydraulic drive.

Bonne Wiersma

#1 - Why are silage spreaders so popular in Holland and why are they mainly used on wheel loaders there?

Bonne: In my opinion, the combination of silage spreader and wheel loader is perfect. The reason why these spreaders are so popular in the Netherlands is simply the improved silage quality. When I started working with MAMMUT in 2012, silage forks were the most popular silage making tool in my area. We did a lot of demonstrations at that time and word quickly spread that silage forks had a significant impact on forage quality. There were reports in trade journals and there was a real change in farmers’ minds. As far as wheel loaders are concerned, it has always been common practice in Holland to work with these vehicles in the silo. They have a high dead weight, which makes the rolling process easier. In addition, the existing tractors are needed with the loader wagons for forage recovery in the field.

#2 - Which silage spreader model do you think is the most popular for use with wheel loaders?

Bonne: That’s an easy question (laughs). It is by far the SILO FOX “SF 280 Gigant”. This type has a drum width of 2.80 m and a drum diameter of 1.28 m. It fits well with any larger wheel loader. This makes it a good match for any larger wheel loader, as it is almost as wide as the loader and the drum height still ensures a good view of the forage. In addition, the GIGANT model range has a very aggressive mode of operation, due to the distribution buckets being arranged in a row. This brings real advantages especially when the compressed forage layers are loaded from the push-off carts into the driving silo – this is when the GIGANT silage spreader shows its strengths.

#3 - I'm sure you have some technical advice for us. What should you look for when buying a silage spreader with hydraulic drive?

Bonne: The most important thing is that the wheel loader has enough litre capacity to drive the oil motor and thus the drum of the silage spreader. The operating pressure is less decisive here. With telescopic loaders, the actual litre capacity at the front of the swing arm is usually less than the technical data says in theory. Therefore, I usually recommend the TITAN type for telescopic loaders, which works perfectly. Then you should also make sure that the loader has two double-acting functions on the control unit – one for the swivelling device of the distributor (accessory) and one connection for the hydraulic drive. In addition, a leakage oil line is necessary, whereby the excess hydraulic oil can find its way back into the hydraulic circuit of the wheel or telescopic loader. Once you have clarified this, you should also think about the attachment: Most of my customers tend to use an adapter (e.g. three-point on Volvo). This provides maximum flexibility, as I can also use the silage distributor with the oil engine of a tractor in the three-point if necessary.

We say THANKS!

We would like to thank Bonne Wiersma for the good tips and for the many years of successful cooperation!This is what makes teamwork fun – keep it up!

We would also like to say a big thank you for the great picture and video material to the two agricultural photographers in the Netherlands: Ids Jeensma from Trekkerfotografie and Ronald Kluitenberg from Landbouwpowers – thank you!

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