Going grain with the
Working Wheels takes to the Victorian wheatfields
DRIVER Cameron Quick sifts the wheat to check the quality. He needs to know the grain he’s loading on to his truck won’t be knocked back when he carts it to the drop-off point.
People like Cameron are crucial to our food cycle. They move the grains from the farms, often hundreds of kilometres away from the capital cities, and then shift the end product to the local supermarket.
This morning, Cameron, who drives a B-double for Mt Noorat Freighters (MNF), is on a property outside Bannockburn, southwest of Melbourne. The sun is rising as he cranks up the little four-stroke engine which forces the grain out of the mini silos. These pumps have long tubes from the base of the silo and up above the trailer. It has a worm drive, which is shaped so the grain is pushed around until it works its way out the top.
There will be 45 tonnes on board by the time he’s done so he has to be careful not to exceed the weights allowed for each axle. The trailer sits on airbags which have their own scales on the side. But they aren’t 100 per cent accurate if the ground is not completely flat so he slightly under-fills it.
Soon he’s filling the rear trailer with the contents of the second silo. This one has a little V-twin four-stroke so it is pumping at a much faster rate.
These mini silos, called field bins, sit out in the paddocks or in the farmers’ yards if the ground is a bit soft.
MNFpartner Tony Maloney explains: Instead of carting the grain to a central spot it can fill the bins right next to the harvesters. Running harvesters is very expensive, so you really want to limit down-time.’’
All of the MNFmachines are fitted with cross-locks and power dividers, which make sure the drive wheels have an even amount of power to avoid loss of traction.
Cameron has finished filling the second trailer and is soon out the gate and on his way to a depot in Melbourne.
MNF takes grain to many different locations, including its own storage silos which it rents out to grain producers who want to hold on to the produce until prices increase.
When it comes to wheat, the crops are usually sown around the middle of the year and harvested anywhere from September through to March, so there is a lot of wheat around at the same time.
MNF Freighters has a fleet of 20 trucks , including five Western Stars and 15 Kenworths, one of which is doing the work today. It’s a T408 SAR, running a 410kW (550hp) Cummins engine with Eaton Roadranger manual gearbox and Lusty EMS trailers.
Maloney says thatMNF prefers Kenworths because they are Australian made, so they’re tougher’’.
Earwego: Cameron Quick checks the quality of the grain he’s about to load