Bale and wrap in one pass: new farm technology comes to Canada

Units from several manufacturers debuted at the Ontario Forage Expo

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European technology to bale and individually wrap hay in continuous operations is coming to Canada.

Four such machines for round bales were on display at the Ontario Forage Expo recently near Monkton.

Most Ontario farms that wrap silage bales in plastic do so in long rows, after bringing the bales to a storage spot and wrapping them there. The Kubota, John Deere, McHale and New Holland balers all have bale wrappers integrated into the units so there is no need for another tractor to pull a separate bale wrapper.

Individually wrapped bales are more popular in Europe because they give the flexibility of being able to move and sell them once they are wrapped, whereas the long line of continuously wrapped bales must remain where they are wrapped, for on-farm use, or for short-term delivery to another nearby farm.

The Kubota FastBale takes improvement in efficiency a step further as it continuously wraps bales continuously harvest and makes bales so there is no stopping. That need for a stop during baling has been an argument against round baling and one of the reasons that large square baling has gained prominence.

A decal on the new Kubota FastBale system explains the two-chamber design that allows for continuous baling with stopping for twine wrapping.
photo: John Greig

The Kubota round baler, built in the company’s Vicon and Kverneland factory in Europe, prepares two-thirds of the bale in the first chamber in front, says Travis Grubb, a Kubota product specialist. The top of the baler opens up and the bale is moved into the second chamber where it is finished and then the net wrap is applied. A second bale is started in the front chamber so that the baler never has to stop.

The baler has been under development in Europe for a couple of years, but is only now coming to North America, branded as a Kubota. Grubb says there are 11 of the balers in the country, being tested in the many different haying environments.

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The four-foot-by-four-foot silage bales can be set to high density and can even have two different densities in the front and the back chambers.

The baler has about 25 per cent more capacity than traditional round balers at about a maximum 80 bales per hour. Up to 25 knives can be can be fitted in the baler for a range of hay length.

At the back of the baler is a unique wrapper. Bales are spit onto the holder, which then raises the bale up for wrapping. The integrated wrapper can fold up for transportation, which is important in Europe to keep the implement compact.

The baler can also harvest dry hay bales and the bales can be rolled out onto the ground bypassing the wrapper.

The John Deere C451R at the Forage Expo is the first operation baler of its type in Canada. It’s John Deere’s version of an integrated baler and wrapper, from Europe.

This is the first John Deere baler in Canada working with the combination of round baling and integrated wrapping.
photo: John Greig

David Shaw of Premier Equipment told farmers at the expo that the baler has a variable chamber that can make different size bales. It’s also a machine that can handle up to 25 knives. It has a seven-foot pickup so that hay rows can be combined and picked up for more efficient harvesting.

The baler has to stop to net-wrap a bale, but it has several options when it comes to plastic wrapping it. Shaw says there are manual, semi-automatic and automatic options, which means an operator can run the wrapper himself as needed, or the unit can wrap bales as the baler moves through the field. A camera allows the operator to have a look at the wrapper in operation. The baler at the expo had a tipper at the back, which stood the bale up on its end, making it easier for grappling and picking up with a loader.

McHale, an Irish company, also makes a baler, wrapper combination machine and Milestone Equipment had one at the Ontario Forage Expo.

The McHale Fusion Vario also has a variable chamber that can make up to a 57-inch-wide bale.

The challenge with a baler that’s harvesting and wrapping at the same time is the ability to get the bale wrapped before the next one is ready. McHale says it can wrap a bale in four layers in 20 seconds and six layers in 30 seconds.

It has a high-speed transfer system for the bale. As the bale moves from the chamber to the wrapper, the closest wrapping roller to the chamber moves out of the way so the baler can get quicker to the wrapper.

New Holland’s solution for an all-in-one round baler-wrapper includes bringing in a third party attachment from Goweil. The Goweil Kombi is integrated into the baler unit to the point of replacing the tires with a tandem set of tires to support the weight of the wrapping infrastructure.

About the author

Editor

John Greig has spent his career in agriculture journalism and communications. He lives on a farm near Ailsa Craig, Ontario. Contact John at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @jgreig

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