When it comes to forage wagons, Austrian manufacturer Pottinger is at the top of the pile in the UK. With a capacity of 31cu.m, its Torro 5100 Powermatic (as tested) slots into the more popular farmer and mid-sized contractor category.
The manufacturer is also the only one so far (at the time of test) to offer an on-board knife sharpening system. In these fuel sensitive times that is a big plus.
Pottinger’s Torro 5100 is rated for tractors over 130hp and incorporates load sensing hydraulics and IsoBus control.
Pto requirement is 1,000rpm, which is protected with an overload cam-clutch at the wagon end. Shaft drive is used throughout the machine, with use of chains limited to the pickup and moving floor.
While many manufacturers have adopted cam-less pick-ups, Pottinger has retained a cam-type system across its entire range. It claims that its tines move much slower compared to cam-less units resulting in a more even crop flow, are positioned closer to the rotor for better feeding of the grass to the chopper, and gentler on the crop with less potential for soil contamination.
The 800mm diameter feed rotor features an eight-point star layout, feeding the crop through a bank of 39 knives, offering a theoretical chop length of 35mm. Pottinger says the discharge end of the feed rotor is 90mm below the scraper floor, which helps to protect the forage and enables trouble-free loading of the loading chamber, especially when working in wet conditions. Also, this system requires less energy to drive, it adds.
Our test wagon was equipped with hydraulic brakes but airbrakes can be specified as an option (rated for 60kph). Parabolic springs and a drawbar damper provide road-going suspension while a passively steered rear axle aids manoeuvrability and protects the fields.
With the pto engaged and hydraulics working, control and operation of the Torro 5100 is handled through the firms Power Control handset. Again, we set the wagon filling function to operate in automatic.
Once in automatic, the machine takes care of floor movements for you, leaving you to concentrate on gobbling up the rows. Floor movements are activated using information taken from two sensors – one on the headboard and one on the pivoting roof panel found at the front/top of the machine. These can be manually adjusted if you want to increase or decrease the amount of pressure required before the floor moves.
Blister buttons on the handset provided control for raising/lowered the pick-up, putting knives in/out of work, raising/lowering the drawbar, and locking up the rear steered axle. All were pretty straight forward and easy to use, with clear symbols depicting the various functions.
The controller also features a colour screen which provided clear and concise information as to what was going on including floor movements, automatic or manual filling, knives in or out, rear axle locked and so on. The controller itself was not too cumbersome either and did not feel imposing in the cab, whereas the Krone and Lely handsets were a bit bulkier, but you could argue that those handsets took the level of control to the next level.
Unloading at the clamp was straightforward enough with automatic unloading. Like the other machines featured, the automatic unloading feature selects a low floor speed and once partially unloaded the operator can then select fast floor speed on the handset. This is intended to take the initial strain out of the floor chains and motors before speeding up ejection.
As a safety feature the rear tailgate drops/closes the first part of the way under gravity, to prevent damage if there is any grass left at the rear, so it was a bit slow in that department until it is pressurised shut. However, this does give peace of mind that the tail is not going to try and ram itself shut.
In-field, performance of the Torro was good, with speeds in excess of 12kph easily achievable and without too much objection from the T7.200 New Holland tractor. The cam-type pick-up performed extremely well leaving nothing behind, even in the lightest of conditions.
One field in particular was a challenge with both tight bends and serious humps/hollows. Only one blockage occurred (driver error) and was cleared simply by powering out the knives and re-starting the pto.
A slight Achilles heel of the Torro is its narrow pick-up real, compared to the others, which facilitated the need to be a bit more accurate with the steering.
Manoeuvrability, or the lack of it, would be the perceived limiting factor for big machines like these but the positioning of the axles roughly mid-way plus a rear steered axle facilitates some pretty extreme manoeuvres through small gateways and narrow roads.
Overall performance will be entirely dependent on the distance from field to clamp. Our tractors were all 50kph and wagons were all well suited to travelling at this speed where the roads allowed.
The big surprise was just how much grass can be squashed into a wagon like this in contrast with a silage trailer where grass is just blown in loose. With around nine tonnes of grass per load, more if operated in manual filling mode, it would not take long to clear reasonably close fields.
Pottinger’s biggest trump card has to be its automatic, on-board knife sharpening system, which sharpens the knives in situ without having to remove them.
Called Autocut, it sharpens the entire bank of knives in about four-minutes, benefitting both the quality of chop and helping keep fuel consumption in check.
If more service is required to the knife bank, it can be swung out to the side. Knives are also sprung-loaded to protect them from stone strike, for example.
The Torro’s hydraulic system can accommodate send and return-type systems or it can be easily switched to load sensing via the turn of a tap. Load sensing prevents wear and tear and saves fuel as the hydraulic system only operates if and when it is needed.
Daily maintenance is straightforward - the wide angle pto shaft is the only awkward component to grease. A grease bank on the left facilitates greasing of the slatted floor’s front shaft bearings. There are lots of grease points on the axles, particularly the steered axle.
The cam track needs to be lubricated once a year and the main bearing on the cam arm every 80 loads.