For contractors, big square balers provide a high-output packaging system for silage and straw. Peter Hill rounds up the latest developments and features

Case IH

The Case IH big square baler range has run to four models since the introduction of a smaller-size machine to the line-up.

The LBX 322 produces an 80cm wide, 70cm deep bale to suit operators wanting a package that is a little easier to handle than the bigger sizes turned out by its stablemates.

As with the rest of the LBX range, the 322 is available with a crop slicing system, which not only helps pack more material into each bale and makes life easier when it comes to taking them apart again, but thanks to the intake rotor there is also more positive feed into the baling mechanism.

This includes a pre-packing system with material transferred only once the required density has been achieved, thereby ensuring that a full-size flake is pushed up into the main chamber.

Claas

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  • Claas Quadrant 3200 slots into the range between the mildly revamped Quadrant 2200 Advantage, which produces the same 70cm x 120cm sized bale, and the bigger Quadrant 3400.

Silage contractors are expected to take a shine to the Claas Quadrant 3200, which makes a 120cm x 70cm bale and features a variable feed-in sequence for the first time, which should result in improved performance in difficult baling conditions and make it easier to achieve consistent density across a range of crop conditions.

The Quadrant 3200’s chamber is fed by either a plain helix rotor (Roto-Feed), a 25-knife cutting rotor (Roto-Cut) or a 49-knife cutting rotor (Fine-Cut), with a heavier flywheel and stronger gearbox allowing more power and torque to be pumped into the machine.

Main feature, though, is the new packing system, which can operate with a fixed sequence of one short stroke and a longer feed-in stroke or a variable sequence that keeps filling the pre-chamber until a pre-set density triggers the feed-in stroke.

There are four different pressure settings, so the operator can fine-tune the system to help get the required bale density, regardless of forward speed and swath volume.

Changes to the Quadrant 2200 itself – which now carries the ‘Advantage’ tag – have reduced its price and increased its appeal to contractors producing a lot of hay and straw but not silage or farmers who want to buy a big baler jointly with neighbours for straw.

Krone

A substantially uprated driveline – the main gearbox is rated at 1100hp – and a longer bale chamber are among the features of the ‘HDP’ version of the BiG Pack 1290 square baler.

Together, says Krone, these changes result in bale densities up to 25% greater than with the standard version, allowing better use of truck capacity when transporting straw from one part of the country to another.

For growers, there is the attraction of fewer bales per acre – so fields can cleared quicker, stacks take less time to build and take up less space from a given quantity of straw.

The BiG Pack 1290 HDP produces a 120cm x 90cm bale, which initially is compressed an extra 50% and is said to expand less because of changes in the material structure.

Double knotters are standard on the machine – in common with all BiG Pack balers – and conventional 130m/kg twine is sufficient to secure the tight packages.

Massey Ferguson

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  • All four of the Massey Ferguson 2100-series balers are built on a new, heavier duty chassis with tandem axles available in each case.

Re-designing the Massey Ferguson big square baler range has resulted in four models built on a stronger common chassis for increased durability and with tandem suspension axles with lockable castor steering now available across the line-up.

Other changes include a more effective swath pick-up with torsion bar instead of coil spring suspension further improving flotation characteristics and four augers gathering material on non-Cutter versions. A full-width auger plus rotor gives a positive feed when the optional Cutter unit is fitted.

Faster ram speeds, heavier flywheels and changes to the stuffer tines, fingers and timings increases the density of pre-formed ‘flakes’, and contribute towards heavier bales and increased output.

The flagship MF2190 model, producing a 120cm x 128cm bale, gains most, with a 10-20% increase in bale weight and 20% faster working speed than the MF190 recorded in winter barley straw.

New Holland

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  • New Holland BB960A is the second-biggest in the range, turning out 120cm x 90cm bales.

The BB9090 that now heads the New Holland big square baler range produces a 20mm-wider bale than its predecessor – so dimensions are 120cm x 127cm – and with the ram running at a faster 33 strokes/minute backed by a 35kg-heavier flywheel, it turns them out faster too.

The big machine has heavier-duty 5.6mm diameter pick-up reel tines to cope with this extra potential and revised suspension allows the reel to be raised higher for improved ground clearance while also improving the pick-up’s contour-following ability.

An increase in string capacity from 24 to 30 balls enables the machine to keep baling a little longer between refills and the twine boxes are now sealed to reduce debris build-up.

As on the smaller New Holland BB-A balers, the BB9090 has a self-contained hydraulic system.

Vicon

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  • Vicon LB8200 can be configured to make 70cm or 80cm deep bales.

A redesigned bale chamber has given the Vicon LB big square baler range an added model in the shape of the LB12290.

Unlike its stablemates, which produce either 80cm wide or 120cm wide bales and can be set-up to make them 70cm or 80cm deep, the newcomer makes a 120cm wide bale with a depth of 90cm.

These dimensions, Vicon recognises, allows hauliers to stack bales in four layers on a standard 1m high flatbed to make the most of truck capacity and road bridge heights.

The LB12290 uses the Power Density pre-chamber charge system first introduced on the other two ‘LB’ balers, which features a rotor (whether or not the baler is fitted with crop slicing knives) with integral auger flights for simplicity and a density-triggered feed-in system from the pre-chamber to the main chamber.

Shaft drives are used throughout, with a cam-type overload clutch eliminating shear bolts from the feeder and ram drives.

Welger

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  • High ram speed characterises Welger’s square balers, which can be with (pictured) and without a crop chopping system.

The Welger range from Lely continues to offer a choice of two bale sizes – 80cm x 70cm and 120cm x 70cm – with machines that use a faster baling mechanism than most.

Both the D4006 and D6006 run with a 64 strokes/minute ram speed, in contrast to a typical 42 to 52 strokes/minute rate, which Welger says boosts capacity by making the most of the energy pumped in by the tractor pto.

Also unusual is the Hydroflexcontrol spring-loaded panel, which forms the base of the intake and can expand the volume of this section briefly to allow a large lump of grass or other material to pass through instead of causing a blockage.

Both models are also available with a 23-knife cutting system to help pack more material into each bale.