Automatic Silage Bag Unloader
"When we did our patent search we were amazed to discover that no machine like this had ever been patented," says Doug Strankman, farmer-inventor of a first-of-its-kind silage bag unloader that automatically peels back the plastic on silage bags and then knocks silage loose onto a paddle conveyor that loads it into a feed mixer or wagon.
  Strankman got the idea when he started looking for a way to reduce the labor involved in feeding silage out of bags. He was tired of using two tractors - one for a front-end loader and one to pull a feed wagon. It was time consuming and required a lot of manual labor to shovel out loose feed in the bottom of the bag.
  Another problem that bothered Strankman - and many of his neighbors who put silage up in bags - was getting rid of plastic as bags are opened up.
  "I do custom-bagging and on just about every farm there are pieces of plastic blowing around. It gets torn off when the bag is cut open or when loose ends blow in the wind. It's a mess and a nuisance," points out Strankman.
  His first labor-reducing invention was an automatic self-feeder that allows cattle to feed directly out of the bag (see sidebar story). It works great in situations where you can allow cattle direct access to bags. But Strankman still wanted to find a better way to get silage out of bags for mixing feed or to transport feed to cattle in other locations.
  His powered bag unloader solved the problem. "It peels silage off the outer end with a toothed roller. A conveyor carries the silage up and into a wagon. All you need is one person and one tractor."
  Perhaps the most unique feature of the bag unloader is that it pulls itself ahead by rolling up the plastic on a hydraulic-powered roller. That feature solves three problems at once:
  1) It moves the unloader ahead as needed without a tractor or other power unit.
  2) It neatly rolls up the plastic on an upper and lower roller, making disposal easy.
  3) No shoveling is needed inside the bag because as plastic rolls up on the bottom roller, loose silage falls onto the conveyor.
  All the operator has to do is slice the bag open down either side and feed the bottom half of the bag onto the bottom roller and the top half onto the top roller (Strankman was in the process of adding the top roller when these photos were taken so the top roller is not shown.)
  The unloader is powered by a 60 hp. air-cooled Wisconsin gas engine that drives a hydraulic pump. It powers the 16-ft. wide beater drum - which is fitted with square metal teeth arranged in a spiral pattern around the drum - and the rollers that roll up the plastic. The feed conveyor is also hydraulic-powered.
  In operation, the machine is moved ahead by raising up the beater drum and rolling up a foot or so of plastic. Then the drum is lowered to knock feed onto the conveyor. The 25-ft. conveyor consists of one long continuous set of chains driven by a single hydraulic motor.
  Strankman says the drum is made out of heavy 3/8-in. wall pipe so it has lots of weight. "Frozen feed is no problem. The spiral pattern of the teeth prevents jumping as the teeth cut into the silage."
  The machine loads out at a rate of 1 to 2 ton per minute. It's fitted with a hitch on one end for pulling to the next bag.
  The plastic rollers can hold plastic from about half of an average size bag. Halfway through the bag, you cut the plastic and pull it off the roller for disposal.
  "I've used it for almost a year now and I don't know how I got along without it. It's a great labor saver and should be standard equipment for anyone putting up silage in bags," says Strankman.
  He's currently completing the patenting process. He plans to work with a manufacturer to put the machine on the market. Inquiries are welcome.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Doug Strankman, Box 250, Blackfalds, Alberta T0M 0J0 Canada (ph 403 885-4000; fax 403 885-4800).

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1998 - Volume #22, Issue #5