combi makes life easier
Replacing a baler and
in-line wrapper by a
combination has made
life easier for the
operator and improved
efficiency – especially
in small fields.
Mike Williams starts
Special with a report
on a contractor who
has made the switch
BALING is an important part of Richard Boffeys Warwickshire based RAB Contracting business. He operates two New Holland D1010 big balers plus three Claas round balers as part of a general contracting service employing five full-time drivers.
One of the Claas machines is a new Uniwrap with a baler and a detachable wrapping unit combined on a single chassis. It was delivered in time for this years silage season, and by mid-July it had made and wrapped more than 8000 bales of mainly first-cut silage, with a big acreage of second-cut crop still to come.
Mr Boffey, who operates the contracting service over a 20-mile radius from Dents Farm, Burton Hastings, Nuneaton, says the decision to buy the Uniwrap was part of his policy of cutting costs and improving efficiency.
"Farmers are having a difficult time at present, which is why I have been trying to avoid putting up my charges," he says. "If you dont increase your prices, you have to reduce your overheads instead, and bringing the baling and wrapping together as a one-man job is a good way to cut costs."
His first approach to combined baling and wrapping was with an in-line wrapper behind one of the Claas Rollants. It was a big improvement, with one tractor and driver instead of the two needed for baling and wrapping as separate operations.
"We used a McHale wrapper, and it worked very well," says Mr Boffey. "But the biggest disadvantage is there are two machines to control – and that made it more demanding for the driver. Using the Uniwrap avoids this problem. I dont think there is much difference in output when you are working in a big field, but the Uniwrap is probably faster in small, awkward shaped fields – and we have quite a lot of those in this area."
Typical work rate for the Uniwrap is between 30 and 50 bales made and wrapped per hour. This means up to 500 bales/day for first-cut silage in good working conditions and this is considered to be a realistic total.
Second-cut silage crops and smaller fields would reduce output towards the 30 bales/hour level but in small fields particularly, the easier manoeuvrability of the bale-and-wrap combi and the ease of making headland turns would put it ahead of the in-line wrapper for output.
Mr Boffey looked at most of the rival machines before choosing the Uniwrap. In the end his decision was influenced by the fact that he and his drivers were already familiar with the Rollant round baler which forms the front section of the Uniwrap.
The only significant problem so far with the new machine involved two of the wrapping table rollers, which were cracked and had to be replaced early in the silage season. At that stage, Mr Boffey was told, the rollers were not available in the Claas UK parts stock, but the company removed a pair of rollers from a new Uniwrap to keep his machine working.
"Apart from that problem, the Uniwrap has been very reliable and I think we have only had minor problems such as a broken drive chain," he says. "It has performed very well and I like it."
This enthusiasm for the Uniwrap is shared by Duncan Dearden, who has been using the machine behind a John Deere 6910 tractor. Like Mr Boffey, he prefers having just one machine to manage instead of separate baler and wrapper units. He also confirmed the advantages of the combi unit for working in small fields and he has also used it on steep land without difficulty.
He also likes the general design of the Uniwrap, and the way the spare rolls of wrapping film are carried came in for special mention. There is space to carry five spare rolls on each side of the wrapping unit, with a simple one-handed mechanism to release each roll. As they are held upright and at just the right height for easy handling, replacing a used roll is quick and easy.
"That sort of thing makes a lot of difference when you are wrapping thousands of bales during the season, and it saves a lot of time when you are in a hurry," insists Mr Dearden. *
The bale-and-wrap combination is ideal where space is restricted, says Richard Boffey.
Uniwrap operator Duncan Dearden takes a replacement roll of film from the supply carried on the machine.
Richard Boffey chose a bale-and-wrap combi to improve his operating efficiency.