For Morpeth-based contractor Roger Dickinson, baler output is key. He makes 10,000 straw bales a year and it’s a time-critical operation.

“When working in straw it’s essential bales are cleared as soon as possible to allow cultivation to start, and the fewer there are the quicker the job is completed,” he says. “And it’s not only time that’s saved, it’s also money in reduced transport, loading and labour costs.”

Hence his choice of Krone’s new BigPack 4×4, which makes bales that weigh 20% more and give 20% higher output. Bale dimensions are 1.2m x 1.3m x 2.2m long and the bales can weigh as much 700kg.

“We’ve used the baler on thin swaths and also on swaths produced by 35ft combine headers in a thick crop and the bales have been equally well formed,” he says.

“We use a 360hp Fendt 936 to operate the baler and it really needs all that power,” says Mr Dickinson. “Having said that, when everything gets up to speed with the plunger working at its 38 strokes/minute, the baler is remarkably smooth and well balanced.”

Protection is afforded by a friction clutch which, when overloaded also activates the automatic ratchet type clutch on the drive for the VFS. With the exception of the pick-up drive, all the drives on the baler are by shafts rather than chains which are not so reliable and need maintaining.

The actual bale chamber is funnel shaped, with eight spring loaded restrictors on the sides and top and a reinforced yoke which uses six hydraulic cylinders to exert pressure on the bale chamber sides. To ensure equal loading and uniform bales, two force sensors on the left and right of the chamber adjust the bale chamber sides in respect of pressure differences.

With a contract business which has customers more than a few miles apart, good transport characteristics are important. The baler, with its rear wheel steered tandem axles, is rated at 50kph and is equipped with twin circuit air brakes.

“We also use a ball-type hitch system which, for a machine like this that has constant changes in its drawbar loadings as the plunger does its work, is important. A normal clevis and pin would not last for very long,” he says.

For the operator, an Isobus compatible in-cab display unit provides information on all the major baler functions and allows on-the-move adjustment of, for example, bale pressure and bale length.