In all the right places

In Features, August 20228 MinutesBy Dave McCoidSeptember 20, 2022

When most people think about the Trout River live floor system, names such as Fulton Hogan and Downer pop up front of mind. But Wokatu Holdings from Scotts Gap in Southland is another company that has seen the system’s wider potential… and it’s gone big time.

It certainly attracted its fair share of interest at the recent Gore Truck Show – an 8×4 Scania truck and five-axle trailer at 23m and 50Max, both with Trout River live floors, owned by Wokatu Holdings in Scotts Gap, Southland.

To answer the first question that 90% of you will no doubt have: Take a pen, draw a triangle with Nightcaps, Otautau, and Orawia as your three corners, drop the good biro into the middle of your triangle, and that’ll roughly be the rural area known as Scotts Gap.

“Ninety-five percent of what we do services our farms. We look after a couple of long-term clients also,” says Wokatu Holdings owner John Clarke. “There are five trucks in the fleet; they’re older. The trucking thing is as much a personal interest as anything else. I decided in 2007 that I didn’t want a boat, and so collected trucks instead,” he laughs. “The Trout River unit came about because I was increasingly irritated with feed and fert sheds with low roofs. They’re a pain in the arse. I was talking to a mate ‘Bonkers’ at the Railway Hotel in Otautau, and he suggested the Trout River system might be worth a look. So far, it’s been brilliant. The unit can put feed, fert etc into a shed that’s 3.5m tall without having to push up after unloading. We use it to put animal bedding in the wintering sheds and spread rice gravel on the farm lanes. There are no issues with stability when spreading because there’s nothing in the air. It’ll take up to 75mm aggregate also.”

John secured an ex-Open Country Dairy Scania R500 8×4 mid-last year and commissioned a 7.6m Trout River live floor body. That unit went to work last December, and the brand-new 10.1m five-axle trailer hooked on in late May this year. The full combination is a spectacular sight in its bright red base colour with black ribs on the bins, black covers, black Rhino guards with chrome insets, Alcoa alloy wheels, and a plethora of Narva lights.

Aside from access and efficiency, safety was a significant consideration. There’s the obvious elimination of height- related issues, but the live floor system also affords significantly improved control and reduced risk around auger deliveries.

The Trout River live floor makes auger deliveries a piece of a cake, with total control of discharge, and the ability to redistribute the load.

“I’ve seen what happens when a tail-door lets go while tipping into an auger, and it’s not pretty,” says John. “With this, we have total control and zero risk of that sort of thing happening. Having the SI-Lodec scales also allows us to charge each farm in the business for the exact feed delivered. We’ve found them to be very accurate to date. Another advantage in our work where multiple farms might get deliveries off the one load is the ability to reverse the floors and easily redistribute the load for road travel.”

The Wokatu unit is truly a ground-based operation with Razor electric drives operating the rollover Kiwitarps.

Because of the abrasive nature of the work in and around farms, fertiliser and feed works, both truck and trailer are fitted with central greasing.

The driver of the unit is Mick Nicol. His summation is simple (but, then, little else is needed.) “I love it. It’s easy and safe to operate. It’s idiot- proof.”

Trout River’s New Zealand agent is Dunedin-based Reid Engineering, and owner Corey Reid is excited about the Wokatu unit.

“It’s great to have another unit in an application outside the expected norm, and being a truck and trailer combination is awesome. The Wokatu unit is demonstrating the potential.”

Of course, one question is just how much potential? Surprisingly, with an 8×4 Scania up-front fitted with hub-reduction diffs and running 50Max, the combination is suitable for a 29-tonne payload. “The shape of the sides means 44.5m3 will bulk it out,” says John. “But that’s about the only limitation we’ve encountered. We can work with that no trouble in our operation. It’s no biggy.”

In an area like Southland, where there’s no shortage of considerable holdings within a 70km crow’s-fly of Invercargill, the fast turnaround of the live floor certainly offers a mitigating factor to a slightly reduced cubic capacity. Especially weighed against the lost money and time of the ‘unload, push-up, unload, push-up’ saga that often accompanies conventional HPMV tipping combinations on rural bulk-feed and fertiliser deliveries.

“I was in Australia last month, and within an hour or so leaving Brisbane and heading north, we counted 30 Trout River units on the road. That in itself says a lot.”

A spectacular-looking unit, Wokatu Holdings nine-axle Trout River live floor combination. Photo: Trout River NZ.


The Trout River live floor system operates via a PTO-driven hydraulic motor that powers two drive chains per unit, each capable of exerting a 22.6-tonne pull on the belt at the base of the bin. The belt has a 950mm exposure to the load.

Each unit has an air-operated tailgate and grain doors, with brake pots used to open and close the latter.

The driver controls the feed rate of the belt to the rear of the door and pressure sensors stop the feed if too much is piling up.