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Balers & bale handling

Maize-under-film trials show significant economic returns

Recent baling trends include an increasing demand for big square balers that produce high density to boost transport efficiency, writes Mike Williams.

Bale length adjustment on the LSB series big balers from Kuhn is between 0.6–3.0m.

Increasing the bale density allows a bigger payload to be carried, helping to reduce haulage costs per tonne when bales are sold off the farm, but raising the density also brings other benefits including improved handling efficiency and making more effective use of storage capacity.

The recently introduced LSB 1270 DX model from Kuhn can increase bale density by up to 10 per cent, helped by the new Xtra gearbox that provides a 30 per cent increase in the load capacity to cope with demands created by boosting the density. The baler also benefits from a strengthened main frame to withstand the additional stresses resulting from high density baling.

There are five Kuhn LSB square baler models, all of them making bales with length adjustment between 0.6–3.0m, and the bale chamber sizes range from 0.8 x 0.7m for the LSB 870 model to 1.2 x 0.9m for the 1290 D. The pick-up reel for the LSB balers has a 2.3m working width and the Optifeed intake rotor is equipped with double feeder tines and integrated augers. Single knotters are standard on the LSB 870 and 1270 balers and the other models are equipped for double knotting.

Bale density

The density boost for New Holland big square balers is featured on the four Plus series models with bale sizes from 80 x 70cm to the range-topping 120 x 90cm BigBaler. Density is increased by up to 10 per cent and there is also an improvement in baling work rates. Design features contributing to the extra performance include extending the bale chamber by 80cm to give a 260cm maximum bale length, the plunger speed is increased by 14 per cent to 48 strokes per minute and there is a 48 per cent increase in the flywheel energy. 

Plus series balers are available with 1.96 or 2.35m pick-up width options, there is a choice of single or tandem axles and there are fine and medium chop length versions of the CropCutter. The New Holland IntelliView IV touchscreen monitor records data for bale weights and moisture content, and tractor speed can be regulated by the IntelliCruise feature.

High density baling with Krone’s BiG Pack 1290 HDP II can increase maximum bale weights by up to 25 per cent.

Increased work rates

Increased density on the HDP and HDP11 models in Krone’s BiG Pack baler range can boost the bale weight by up to 25 per cent, and the HDP11 models also offer increased work rates. As well as the transport benefits, the extra bale density also means fewer bales per hectare to allow faster field clearance, says Krone, and there is also up to 25 per cent reduction in twine costs. There are five Krone BiG Pack baler models and numerous versions, including the MultiBale that forms nine individually tied small bales into one large bale to combine small bale convenience with big bale handling benefits.

A special feature on Krone BiG Pack balers is the pick-up reel that operates without a cam track. Benefits include fewer working parts, and there is a 30 per cent increase in the operating speed. Krone also offers the BaleCollect accumulator designed to work with BiG Pack balers and operating through an in-cab terminal. It can group three 120cm wide bales or up to five of the 80cm size, and it has a weighing facility.

Straw and bale accumulators

Bale accumulators are among the straw related products available from PJ Reed’s ProStraw Systems, the Suffolk based straw merchants. The company’s main business is buying cereal and rapeseed straw which it sells nationally for use on livestock farms and for a long list of other applications ranging from power station fuel to thatching, but it also distributes the Parkland range of big bale accumulators from Denmark. There are four models with capacities ranging from three midi sized bales to five of the large maxi bales, and they can be equipped to record bale weights.

ProStraw Systems also supplies stack covers to provide weather protection for bale stacks. Each cover is based on a weatherproof sheet measuring 12 x 16m, sufficient to protect stacks up to 5 bales wide and 10 bales long, and advantages claimed for the sheets include reduced operator risk as the covers are applied mechanically without the use of access ladders or working at heights.

Loading and stacking

Attachments for loading and stacking bales are available from Heath Engineering, part of the family run HG Heath & Sons group which also includes farming and agricultural contracting interests. The engineering business, based on a Warwickshire farm, has been making agricultural machinery for more than 70 years and its current range includes the Super Grab loader attachment for big square bales. The Super Grab, which handles bales with a range of sizes based on a 120cm width, can be used with the bales arranged either vertically or horizontally.

For round bale handling the Heath range includes the Super Spike with a 1.5t carrying capacity. Safety features built into the Super Spike design include tines that fold to minimise damage risks when travelling without a load, and a special safety bar is included for added security.

Three additions

Telehandlers are the popular choice for big bale loading or stacking and recent arrivals include three additions to the D series range from Caterpillar.

The 3 models introduced in 2017 start with the TH357D offering 3,500kg load capacity and 7.0m maximum lift height and the TH408D can lift a 4,000kg load to 7.6m. For bale stacking the TH3510D loader offers the extra advantage of a 9.8m lift height while providing 3,500kg capacity.

The standard specification for all 3 loaders includes a 111hp Caterpillar engine, but a 124hp option is also available, and the TH408D and TH3510D can also be equipped with a 142hp engine. The transmission is a 6F/3R powershift, all models have a cab with a 75 dB(A) sound level, and they are all available with the Ride-Control feature that ensures a smoother ride for the load when travelling over rough terrain at speeds above 5kph.

The 9.8m lift height for Caterpillar’s recently introduced TH3510D loader is an advantage for bale stacking.

Bale handlers from basic to high capacity


A wide range of bale handlers for both tractor loaders and material handlers is available from MX UK.

With 15 different models the manufacturer says it offers a bale handling solution for most applications from simple bale spikes to extra-large contractor grabs. The range is spilt into three groups – Manubal L for bale spikes, Manubal C for silage wrapped bale handlers and Manubal V for straw bale handlers.

Manubal L includes the L40 basic bale spike which retails at £375, L400 floating bale spike (£450), L500 premium bale spike (£625) and L6000 high capacity bale spike (from £1,235).

Manubal C includes the C30 basic bale squeezer (£1,150), C40 contractor bale squeezer (from £1,525) and U40 universal bale squeezer (from £1,425).

Meanwhile Manubal V includes the V40 basic bale grab (from £1,325), V500 twin bale grab (from £1,740), and the V7000 high capacity contractor bake grab (from £3,495).

The Manubal V7000 TX Loader with Claas Axion Stage IV.

Following the MX philosophy its handlers are designed with some unique user-friendly features to make bale handling easier and safer.

Savings at harvest time


Considerable savings on time, fuel and wear and tear on valuable machinery are made possible by operating a Parkland Bale Accumulator in tandem with a baler at harvest time, says PJ Reed.

By carrying the bales on the accumulator and dropping them in rows along the headland, operators spend less time collecting bales from the field. It avoids the necessity of driving over each field collecting individual bales, meaning you dramatically reduce land compaction and satisfy the demands for controlled traffic farming. Because it’s quicker to get bales from field to stack, it results in considerable savings on time, fuel costs, as well as wear and tear of your valuable machinery over the season.

The Parkland Agro-Master range of three and five bale accumulators offers options to accommodate different bale sizes (80-120cm), crops and terrain. All machines are fully automated and controlled via an on-board computer in the cab. Hydraulic side-wings on larger models fold up for easy transportation. Optional extras include a silage kit, and weigh scales to measure individual bale weight as well as field and season accumulated bale totals.

Parkland Accumulators run around 40-litres of oil per minute which is a flow rate of 25-30 per cent.

Meanwhile with the demand for good quality straw through the year continuing to grow, Suffolk farmers Paddy and Will Reed have invented a system to cover outdoor bale stacks to help eliminate the problems of wet-wasted straw.

It is estimated that 10-15 per cent of all straw in the UK is wasted each year due to water damage. 

The ProStraw stack cover sheet measure 12m long by 16m wide and can cover a stack that is five 8ft bales wide and 10 bales long. Overlapping sheets enables stacks of any length to be covered.

The ProStraw system covers outdoor bale stacks to eliminate the problems of wet-wasted straw.

The patented application process has been designed to avoid the potential risks of working at height. The sheet covers are mechanically fitted without the need for anyone to leave the ground, and the system is fully NFU Health & Safety approved.

Under normal weather and operating conditions the ProStraw stack cover system will last 5-10 years.

New stacker available


Big Bale Co’s latest Transtacker has been in development more than three years and after three seasons of rigorous testing, it will be available in limited numbers for the 2019 harvest. The new model is fully automatic, and compatible with CTF farming systems, courtesy of a front-mounted tractor bump bar which pushes bales into line with the trailer pick-up.

The fully automatic loading system has to be told the bale size; 80×70, 80×90, 120×70, 120×90 or 120×127, where the tie layers are required (if any) and the management system automatically loads and stacks the trailer as instructed. Carrying typical 120×90 bales, 18 can be transported in total.

“The test machine working in a CTF situation during the 2018 harvest successfully loaded and transported 15,500 bales,” explained design engineer Tom Bradbury. “The price is approximately £95,000 and part of the development has been designing systems to work in any climates, including the heat of the Middle East from where we receive many enquiries.

“Work rates with the fully automatic operation are approximately 25 per cent higher than for the previous semi-automatic version and we believe the latest model will prove popular.”

Bale handlers built to last


Heath Engineering, an innovative British manufacturer has been producing agricultural equipment for over 70 years. Founded by Harold George Heath in 1944 and now in its third generation of the Heath family, many customers learn that equipment carrying the Heath Engineering name is synonymous with machines that are built to do the job and will last.

Two machines that have created a lot of interest, following their launch at Lamma earlier this year, are the Heath Super Spike and the Heath Super Grab, points out the company.

The Heath Super Spike is a bale handling spike specifically designed with road safety transport in mind. Built with strength to allow a 1.5t carrying capacity, the tines fold away for safe road transport position, while the safety bale bar extends for safe bale handing.

The Heath Super Grab is a truly innovative solution to large bale handling. A bale grab with a total ‘free release system’ enables safer bale stacking and loading. Holding of the bales is provided by four uniquely designed Hardox tines, says the company.

The Heath Super Grab is able to handle bale sizes of 1,200mm x 1,200mm x 2,400mm; 1,200mm x 900mm x 2,400mm; and 1,200mm x 800mm x 2,400mm – either vertical or horizontal in operation.

For more information, contact Heath Engineering or visit the company’s new website, Heath Engineering adds.

Celebrating 50 years in machinery


East Anglian plant hire company Mervyn Lambert is celebrating its 50th year trading.

The company which was launched by Mr Lambert in 1969 offers a wide range of self-drive and operated plant and machinery backed up by a large fleet of mechanical engineers. With a good understanding of what farmers require offers telehandlers from 4–17m with a range of attachments including bale spikes, muck grabs, grain buckets, extension tines, man cages and sweepers. Telehandlers can also come with a farm friendly specification of pick up hitch, trailer braking, ‘SRS’ smooth ride, selectable 2/4wd with agri super models also available.

Hiring a telehandler can be a value for money long-term solution or as a flexible option for busy harvest periods, says the company. It offers long term rates. “Why tie capital up in unnecessary depreciating machinery assets? Hiring a machine offers a fixed rate with no hidden costs such as maintenance, servicing, replacing wearing parts and loss of revenue due to breakdown?”

For those who prefer to own their own equipment Mervyn Lambert Plant also offers a good selection of well-maintained ex-fleet machines for sale.

Machines can be hired by contacting Mervyn Lambert Plant direct or those with an AF Group or Fram Farmers account can take advantage of special pre-negotiated rates.

Bale squeezer for high intensity users


The F470 bale grab from Albutt is a contractor quality, heavy duty bale handler aimed at high intensity users.

The side squeeze operation provides a simple yet effective tool for moving both square and round silage bales. Lateral movement of the clamp can be adjusted to allow for the largest possible range while keeping the frame width at a minimum. A heavy-duty spill frame means a second square bale can be stacked.

Bolt-on brackets allow the brackets on the bale handler to be swapped if the machine type is changed. If the machine has two hydraulic services to the attachment, both width adjustment and the clamp movement operations can be handled from the cab. If the machine only has one hydraulic service, two three-way valves on the F470 can be manually operated to switch between width adjustment or clamp movement services.

Attachments ensure efficient bale handling


Among the range of JCB Agri attachments supplied ready to put to work on JCB telehandlers and loaders for the hay and silage-making season are bale spikes in single and multiple-tine configurations, a roller-type silage-bale handler, and a ‘clap hands’ grab for wrapped and unwrapped bales.

The products are certified for use with JCB machines and in addition to being strong and durable are easily installed and operated on the range of JCB loaders and materials handlers.

For efficient handling of square and round bales of hay, silage and straw, JCB produces single- and twin-spike attachments with shorter supplementary tines that help secure the load safely.

The single-bale design suits machines such as the JCB TM180 and TM220 telescopic compact loaders as well as the TM310 full-size machine, and the 526-56 and 527-58 compact and larger telehandlers when fitted with compact tool carrier, standard tool carrier, Q-fit and pin & cone attachment interfaces.

The compact machines equipped with either of the tool carrier units can also handle the larger version that carries two spiked round bales side-by-side or a single rectangular bale up to 1.2m square and 2.5m long.

Other bale handling options include the convertible bale spike with bolt-on tines that enable the attachment to be used in single or twin-spike configuration.

Either can be chosen to suit the capacity of the loader being used and the removable tines are also easily replaced when worn or taken off for added safety when travelling on the road.

A high-back frame version with 40mm forged square tines provides added stability for placing bales on to a stack or retrieving them subsequently, especially when the high lift capability of a telehandler is being exploited.

When delicate handling of silage bales is called for, the JCB Agri ‘clap hands’ grab and roller tine is ideal, especially when the bales are wrapped.

The double-acting hydraulic cylinder closes the tubular frame paddles against a big rectangular bale or a round bale – whether sitting on-end or with the curved side to the ground – while the heavy-duty 12mm tubes of the roller design gently cradles and lifts from beneath the curved side of a round bale.

At the business end of baling


Isle of Sheppey based Burden Bros Contractors Ltd clocked up 15,000 bales per machine in 2018 having switched to Krone’s BiG Pack HDP II large square balers the previous season, and John Burden is looking forward to producing a substantial output, mainly for the export market, with four balers this year.

The workload starts with two machines on haylage and then hay from May onwards, with the other two coming out for oilseed rape straw, followed by cereal straw.

“We were using Hesston balers but chose the Krone to get more consistent density and the optimum weight for lorry loading,” Mr Burden explains.

“The balers are capable of producing 650kg bales, but we find that 500kg bales maintain straw quality better. Other balers work well in good conditions, but the BiG Packs have proved to be extremely consistent in all conditions.”

The balers are worked hard, producing an average of 42 bales per hour, but hitting 75 bales an hour following a high capacity combine in a large field.

“They have proved very reliable so far,” he comments. “You do need plenty of power – our 400hp John Deeres are adequate on flat ground once they are up and running, although you can see the power being soaked up when baling starts; on steep banks they would need more.”

The key to the success of the HDP II, which uses a 30 per cent larger XCut rotor with 5 rows of tines, 8 double knotters, and offers 70 per cent more throughput than the BiG Pack 1290 HDP, is in the design process, Mr Burden suggests.

“It’s as if the designers have taken all the best features of other balers and combined them – the HDP II is effectively an industrial baler on wheels.”

He comments that the HDP II is clearly intended to partner the highest capacity combines.

“It is at its best working through a row of straw from a 40ft header, much better than previous balers we have used. We struggle to fill it from a 20ft header, and you can’t go any faster, so a good big swath is best.”

Flotation tyres

The balers are carried on tandem axles with flotation tyres and the tractor is also shod on flotations, and Mr Burden comments that it travels well in the field and on the road behind the 50kph tractors; jobs can be up to 50 miles from base.

Attention to detail goes right down to the twine boxes, he adds.

“The ability to lower the twine boxes to the ground hydraulically makes filling so much faster, and with 54 balls on board the baler holds a day’s worth of string.”

Maintenance is straightforward due to the auto-lubrication system leaving just the PTO to grease, and the hydraulic twine boxes also give clear access to service points.

“The balers are supplied by Haynes Agri who also handle routine servicing and we have been very satisfied with them,” says Mr Burden. “One or two glitches in the balers’ first season were quickly picked up by Krone and dealt with and we have had no issues since.”

Planned replacement will be at four years, with Mr Burden kicking off the cycle by trading in one of the two-year old models this season, replacing it with a new model.

“We’ll have four Krone balers in action this season, and I’m very happy with that,” he says.

Updates for 2019 balers


A number of updates to New Holland’s baler range were displayed at the Sima show in Paris, including a new automatic greasing system that has been added to the Roll Belt range of balers, and new poly material tine bands and Evo NIR (near-infrared) sensor on the BigBaler Plus.

The new Lincoln automatic greasing system on the Roll Belt baler is available for the 2019 season. This system provides grease to all non-rotating points on the baler and is fully controlled through the screen in the cab. Along with the greasing system, the oil tank size has been increased to improve the serviceability of the baler.   

New for 2019 on the BigBaler Plus range are tine bands that have been changed from metal to a poly type material providing smoother crop flow, and increased lifetime of the tines resulting in greater productivity.

The Evo NIR sensor supplied and supported by Dynamica Generale has been extended to the BigBaler Plus range. The system provides real time crop analysis measuring dry matter, protein, fat, starch, neutral detergent fibre (NDF) and acid detergent fibre (ADF). This same system can be easily transferred to New Holland’s CR/CX range of combines and FR Forage Cruiser, says the company.

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