7 May 1999

WRAPPING

&BALING ALL IN ONE

Baling and wrapping in one pass with an in-line wrapper

is not new, but the choice of machines and systems has

suddenly increased, as Mike Williams discovered

ONE of the silage season difficulties on many farms is finding enough tractors and drivers, but the problem can be reduced by linking the baling and wrapping into a one-man, one-tractor operation.

As well as the practical benefits, reducing tractor and operator requirements can also reduce costs, and Bernard Krone UK has calculated cost savings for farmers or contractors using the Elho 1820 Inliner bale wrapper they distribute in the UK. The costings are based on an £18 per hour standard operating charge for a 75hp tractor and driver, a baling cost of £1.29 per round silage bale and £1.81 for wrapping. Net wrap and film costs are excluded.

On this basis the cost saving potential for a bale-and-wrap system for 5000 bales per season, working 10 hours per day for 13 days, is £2340 or £5400 spread over 12,000 silage bales in 30 days. This, Krone claims, means the extra cost of an in-line wrapper at about £14,000 compared with a mid-range standard wrapper at £7000 is more than covered during the working life of the machine.

One of three

The Elho 1820 was one of three new in-line wrappers launched at last years Smithfield Show. It is attached to brackets on the axle of the baler to maintain correct alignment, even on corners, and two pre-stretchers with 750mm film are controlled electronically.

The electronic system automatically controls the speed and position of the arms and monitors the film, and if one spool runs out the amount applied from the other spool is automatically doubled. When both spools are empty an error message is displayed in the cab. The price is £14,555.

The Elho 1820 is one of a large batch of in-line wrappers launched in the last two years, but the bale-and-wrap idea is far from new. Rustons Engineering set the trend when they announced the Reco Autowrapper, the first in-line bale wrapper.

That was eight years ago, and there have been important design improvements since then, including the removal of the steel mesh safety fence around the early machines, and an RDS electronic control system has been added.

The electronic unit includes a control to adjust the number of wraps per bale, and it also monitors each stage of the Autowrapper work cycle. Progress through the sequence is shown on a display in the tractor cab, allowing the driver to check for problems, and this is important as the drivers view of an in-line wrapper is almost completely blocked by the baler.

Like most of its rivals, the Autowrapper also works on its own in the field, or as a static wrapper controlled by an infra red unit. It uses 500mm wrap and is designed for 120cm (4ft) round bales. Prices range from £11,595 and healthy export sales in other European countries and as far afield as Japan are helping to back up a modest UK demand.

Another way to keep the operator in touch with the wrapping process is by closed circuit TV. A camera on the rear of the baler showing the action of the wrapping machine on a screen in the cab is available with some in-line wrappers including the Elho and the McHale 991 Combi wrapper, which is also new for 1999.

The electronic control system on the McHale wrapper includes a sensor to detect a break in the film, and when this occurs it not only warns the operator but also stops the wrapping programme and automatically reverses the table through two rotations ready for the end of the plastic to be attached. As wrapping starts again the control unit automatically resumes the programme at the point where it was previously interrupted.

Conors in line wrapper which, like the McHale machine, comes from Ireland and is called the Combi, provides the driver with both CCTV and electronic monitoring to check the wrapping sequence. It was launched at Smithfield and can handle 1000kg bales, uses 750mm wrapping film, and is easily converted from in-line to trailed operation, the makers say. The price is £11,785.

Tellefsdal bale wrappers have been available through Danagri 3S since 1997, and the range includes the 3130 Twin in-line machine – also called the Combi.

The specification includes 1000kg maximum bale weight, twin wrapping arms with 500mm film pre-stretch and a programmable control allowing automatic operation. At £19,995 it is one of the top priced in-line wrappers.

Newest arrival

The newest arrival in the in-line wrapper market is Welgers FG1700. It has a double-arm wrapping system and a fast loading and off-loading system, and this allows work rates as high as 60 bales per hour, according to distributor, Lely UK. Maximum bale weight is 1400kg – well above the limit for most rival machines – and the price is £13,040.

With in-line bale wrapping firmly established, the next development stage has already arrived in Germany. This is a combined baler and wrapper, and the Krone version is available in the UK for this years silage season.

The work sequence with the Krone Combi-Pack 1250 MC starts with a 1.95m reel feeding crop material into a chamber producing 120cm x 120cm bales. The table for the wrapping unit is behind the bale chamber, offering between two and eight wraps with pre-stretch adjustment between 50% and 70%. An audible signal warns the operator to stop the tractor when the bale is fully formed, and during the stop the previously wrapped bale is discharged from the wrapper while the newly formed bale is ejected from the chamber and lifted on to the wrapping table.

The benefits of integrating the baling and wrapping into one machine instead of a baler and a separate in-line wrapper include a more compact overall design, improved manoeuvrability and easier movement on the road, and the tractor requirement is only 60hp, but the two-in-one approach also has some potential disadvantages for some operators.

One snag is reduced versatility. The wrapping unit cant be used separately as a trailed or static machine, and although the baler may be ideal for silage it is less suitable for straw baling. Putting the two units together also brings weight and price penalties. The unladen weight is 4.8t, increasing to 6t plus with two bales aboard, but this is carried on tandem axles to ease the ground pressure.

The price of the Combi-Pack 1250 is £35,000, a bigger investment than buying a round baler and an in-line wrapper separately. &#42