27 March 1998

CHOP OPTION PROVING POPULAR

By Mike Williams

INCREASING popularity of chopped bale silage has brought almost all of the leading round baler companies into the market. And many of the big square balers are also available with a chopping unit option.

The extra cost of specifying the pre-cutting unit option on a new round baler ranges from about £1300 upwards, but simply comparing prices does not give the full picture. Units vary in design and versatility, and price differences may cover more than just the addition of a chopping unit.

A chopping or slicing unit on most balers consists of a row of steel knife blades in the throat of the baler. A rotor above the blades pushes incoming crop material across the blades, which slice it into shorter lengths as it passes into the bale chamber. The knife sections are spring mounted, allowing them to be pushed down by stones and other solid objects which could cause damage, and they can all be withdrawn when no cutting action is required.

Cut interval

Another important design feature is the ability to withdraw some of the knives to increase the interval between cuts and increase the average length of the baled material.

This has become the standard design, and it is the arrangement chosen for the latest version of the Orkel round baler. The new model, announced last year, has a bank of 14 blades which can be retracted to allow uncut material to be baled.

Newest additions to the Krone range of balers for the 1998 season are the fixed chamber Round Pack and variable chamber Vario Pack models; all are available with a tandem axle option.

MC versions of the Krone balers are equipped with the MultiCut slicing unit, which has an above-average 17 blades, giving a theoretical chop length of 64mm with all the blades in action.

Maxicut version

Another recent arrival is the Maxicut version of the Fort fixed chamber round balers. These are made in Italy and are distributed here by the UMO Group. Fort round baler prices start at £9690 for the F21 Super model with a 1.55m pick-up reel, and the MaxiCut model both twine and net wrapping, a 2m reel and an 11-blade cutting unit carries a £16,408 price ticket.

Welgers new RP320 round baler is available with a choice of cutting units. The Mastercut version is equipped with 12 blades, and there are 23 on the Proficut unit. The standard specification includes a 2.25m reel width, the widest available, the makers claim.

Developments for 1998 in the New Holland baler range include the new CropCutter versions of the D1010 and 1210 big square balers. The cutting unit developed for the D1210 has 33 knives, giving a 39mm theoretical chop length, and a special feature is that the complete bed holding the knives is designed to slide sideways out of the baler.

The Roto Cut chopping unit on the latest RC version of the Claas Quadrant 2200 square baler has also been redesigned for easier access. Knives are carried on a lower frame which pivots to make them easier to service. The unit can work with 7, 12 or all 25 blades in the cutting position, but they can all be withdrawn if unchopped bales are required.

Cost of specifying the crop chopping option on a new round baler starts at about £1300. Adding the Topcut unit on the JF RB300 fixed chamber baler distributed by Westmac increases the price by £1370 on the 2m reel version, but it adds a hefty £4278 to the price of the 1.5m version because additional parts are needed to adapt the narrower reel to accept the Topcut. &#42

Claas RotoCut pre-chopping unit, showing the rotor which forces crop material across the knife blades.

Chopping unit on a John Deere 590c variable chamber round baler.

The CropCutter unit on New Hollands D1210 square baler slides out for servicing.

The Front range of round balers available from the UMO Group includes a Maxicut model priced at £16,408.