4 September 1998

Film-wrapped round baling makes debut

By Andy Collings

A ROUND-BALING service which encloses the circumference of the bale in film, rather than twine or net, is now being offered by a Northants contractor.

Said to be the first in the UK to use such a system, Weedon-based Tom Dawkins bought the film applicator attachment from its Danish maker, Binder-Wrap A/S.

"This is the first year we have been in the round baling business and I thought it would help if I could offer something different," he says.

But the Binder-Wrap cannot be fitted to all round balers and its use is limited to belt-type machines not fitted with chopping units, and, with Mr Dawkins John Deere 550 at least, a degree of adaptation is required.

"The JD 550 employs a front roller to stagger belts," says Mr Dawkins. "This needs to be removed and the belts which run over it, shortened to produce belts of the same length throughout."

The Binder-Wrap fits on to the front of the baler via a sturdy mounting bracket. In operation, after a bale has been made, the film unit is lowered hydraulically to place the end of the film in the intake of the baler. A further intake of straw takes the end into the chamber and wrapping commences as the bale rotates. At the same time, the unit transverses across the bale to place film around its entire circumference. The number of wraps can be adjusted, but Mr Dawkins reckons to allow the bale to rotate seven times as the unit transverses.

Film tension, also adjustable, is achieved by two braking rollers which are lowered on to the film roll. A third roller also runs on the film and records how much film is being delivered.

At the end of the wrapping cycle the film roll is prevented from further rotation by an electrically activated lock. This causes the film to be pulled over a shear bar which cuts the film, leaving a length hanging to start the next bale. The whole unit then returns to its start position.

Control of the wrapping sequence is via a cab mounted unit which, once set, requires the operator to press just one button.

Film used is 66cm wide, 1800m long and sufficient, says Mr Dawkins, to wrap up to 50 bales and at about the same cost a bale as net.

To date, Mr Dawkins has made about 400 bales. "It is a gentle start," he says. "The idea this year is to get customers to try a few bales and see how they winter."

Encouragement to use the system for bales destined to be stacked outdoors could be in knowing the degree of wastage that can occur from excessive weathering. According to Binder-Wrap, 15cm (6in) of spoilage on the circumference of a 1.5m (5ft) diameter bale represents 20% waste. &#42

Left: Tom Dawkins and his film-wrapped bale. "The idea is to get customers to try a few bales this year." Right: Bale and wrapper unit. Note the film control system. When wrapping the whole unit is lowered and, with the film being dispensed, moved horizontally across the width of the chamber.