Material handling on farms has come a long way since pitch forks and spades were king. Back then pretty much everything came in either a sack or a 40-gallon drum. Today, more sophisticated machinery and packaging has led to a big boost in efficiency - and now, one person can do so much more.
The value of new machinery is better understood as well – working smarter and safer is seen as the way to go. Stricter rules around health and safety have played their part also in that understanding. To help your efforts, dig into this guide on working smarter and safer with farm materials.
Working more efficiently means lower overheads and less time spent simply getting the job done. But to do something more quickly and stay safe, you need the right tools. That’s why it’s important to have the right attachments for your loader or telehandler.
Rata Equipment has been manufacturing material handling attachments for farm tractors and telehandlers since the 1980s. Constant improvement has allowed Rata to perfect those designs and products, which has led to it becoming New Zealand’s leading brand of on-farm material handling attachments.
Granular products such as grain, seed and fertiliser can mostly be handled with the same attachment. The difference comes in what you are handling the product for. If you’re simply moving or loading bulk amounts of the product, a high capacity grain bucket is ideal.
It’s different though if you’re loading large amounts of any of these materials into a feeder or hopper with limited access, such as when loading into a grain feeder, or loading seed and fertiliser into a helicopter hopper or seed drill. Then, a funnel bucket is often the answer. These allow you to scoop up large amounts – up to 1 cubic metre – at a time and funnel it into a smaller hopper. Check out the funnel bucket here
Check out our blog on '3 best options for loading seed drills and fertiliser spreaders'
To prevent injuries from heavy lifting, rural supply stores and other farm suppliers are delivering more and more product on pallets, which means at the farm end you need a way to unload them. You can use bale forks, but these have such a low surface area that the pallet can split or break, resulting in a big mess of spilled product and a potential health and safety risk. So what’s the right answer?
Again, it’s all about using the right tool. Forks with a larger surface area, such as the purpose-built Rata Pallet forks for tractors and telehandlers, will get the job done safely and without spills. Once you have a set you will find them useful for other tasks as well, such as moving feeders.
Orchards, vineyards and other horticultural operations ship and store a lot of their produce in crates and bins. Rather than spending up large on a fleet of all-terrain forklifts to handle these, it makes more sense for growers to use what they already have and buy pallet forks for their loaders or telehandlers. Making existing equipment more versatile is much smarter than tying up money in more capital equipment.
Even better for such operations is Rata’s Bin Rotator. This allows a vineyard or orchard to easily unload standard bins of produce by tipping them up to 180 degrees. The rugged and compact bin rotator features fully greasable pivot points and high tensile pins. The side arm supports the bin or box while it is being rotated.
Doing more with the gear you already have also makes sense for commercial builders and contractors, so Rata has developed a range of attachments for telehandlers and loaders for handling building materials.
Log Forks are the choice of many fencers for holding posts steady and straight as they put in a fenceline. With their heavy box tines and post removal clamp, the Rata Single Grab log forks are particularly useful for this task. Log forks can also be adapted to handle irrigation pipework.
4 in 1 Buckets are perfect for yard finishing and landscaping, enabling you to push, clamp, scoop and pull back with one versatile attachment.
Certified lifting jibs enable shed builders and construction crews to lift and handle beams, girders, trusses, concrete blocks and walls with their existing telehandlers and loaders. Rata lifting jibs can handle loads of up to 6000kg, allowing operators to safely use loaders and telehandlers at their upper limits.
Pallet forks are handy for unloading and moving building supplies around the site. Pallet-loads of bricks or concrete blocks can be moved safely with ease. Fitting a pallet fork attachment to a skid steer, loader or telehandler does away with the need for a site forklift.
Bulk bags are becoming more common for carting materials such as fertiliser and seed to farms or around the supply depot. To make handling them easier and safer, Rata Equipment has made the Bag Lifter attachment for loaders and telehandlers. Simply attach the lifter to your machine and use the four hooks to lift and shift. To keep things safe, stabilisers prevent the bag from swinging around, and the design gives you a clear view of the load at all times.
When it comes to filling bulk bags, the easiest way is with a funnel bucket. Just hang the bag on the bag legs, scoop up the material and when ready, open the bucket’s shutter to fill the bag. A funnel bucket can be used for much more than grain, fertiliser or seed. It’s perfect for anything that flows, including stock feed, pellets, sand and gravel.
Whether it’s from a winter storm, a flood or just the result of clearing a shelter belt, there’s no shortage of mess that needs cleaning up on the farm. Nothing new there, but what is new are the innovative attachments available to get the job done easily and safely, such as grapples and scrapers.
Versatile grapples are exactly that, probably the most versatile attachment there is. They have been purpose-built by Rata to give farmers an attachment they can use for anything. Particularly useful for cleaning up after storm damage and shelter belt maintenance, a versatile grapple can also pick up rocks, logs and firewood.
Log Forks come into their own when it’s time to handle downed trees and other debris after a storm, or when you are clearing a shelter belt or bush block.
Snow Ploughs are one of those things you might not need very often but when you do, nothing else will do the job. Rather than digging you and your stock out the hard way, use this attachment to push the snow to the side, leaving your path clear and restoring access to feed for your stock.
Yard Scrapers are the easy alternative to the cold and wet job of hosing down dairy and feed pads. Hitch one of these to your loader or telehandler and you can clear a path up to 3m wide with each pass.
Agriculture accounted for over 2100 severe injuries in 2014, at a cost to ACC of about $75 million. Between 2010 and 2014, 35 farm workers were killed in work-related accidents. The equivalent statistics for the construction industry are 3600 severe injuries in 2014 at a cost of $100 million, and 38 construction workers killed between 2010 and 2014.
Having the right equipment on hand can help reduce these alarming statistics by enabling farmers and construction teams to do their job efficiently and safely.
Rata appreciates that in order for farmers to take up these new tools, the equipment has to be not only durable and well made, it also has to be versatile enough to do more than one task. This approach is reflected in its entire range of attachments. For example:
Beet Buckets are primarily designed for lifting fodder beet, but making them with a high tensile cutting edge and 25mm round bars (not pipe), as Rata does, which means they can be used to pick up more. Farmers use their Rata Beet Bucket to pick rocks from paddocks, handle firewood, move down cows and even screen soil.
While a set of bale forks and a separate set of pallet forks is the ideal, if you aren’t handling enough volume you may not be able to justify the outlay. That’s why Rata designed its combo fork, with one frame that handles both bales and pallets by simply swapping the required fork piece on or off.
Never underestimate the impact one bale can have on a farm’s profitability – that was the thinking behind Rata developing its Drawbar Hitch Bale Fork. The unit’s pair of drop-down tines mean you can carry an extra bale on the rear of your tractor for every run you do with a bale or two on the front. This gets the job done faster and saves on fuel at the same time.
Rata designs its attachments to be low maintenance as well as rugged and reliable. A few regular checks and a bit of grease are all that are needed to ensure you get years of benefit from your chosen attachments. Regular maintenance will also keep your gear in working order, helping prevent unnecessary accidents.
This will keep the equipment running smoothly and will prolong the life of the most active parts – anywhere there is a pin, push or bearing.
Keep it tight:
Nuts and bolts should be kept tight at all times to keep parts in position and out of the way of each other.
Check wearing parts:
such as rollers, tow pins, tines and wear plates regularly for excessive wear and tear. Remember, it’s better to replace them when it suits your schedule rather than having a breakage in the middle of a time-sensitive job such as harvesting.