Automatic option pays off
Its not cheap by any
standards, but for one Oxon
contractor the Arcusin bale
trailer is paying its way.
Andy Moore reports
WITH an ability to collect, transport and stack, self-loading bale trailers offer several advantages over fuel thirsty loading and haulage equipment.
Apart from the relatively high operational costs of running two or three tractors to clear a field, there is also the outlay for their respective drivers – and the time taken to do the job.
A graduate from this blood, sweat and toil system is Simon Hartwright of Grove Farm, Harwell, Oxon, who bought an Arcusin E-200 bale trailer for his farms contracting business.
Before its arrival, the bale loading/stacking set-up comprised two Merlo 259 telehandlers and an articulated lorry. But with this outfit on its last legs, the price of the Arcusin was less than the cost of upgrading the equipment.
"Although the Arcusin was expensive at just under £45,000, it paid for itself in the first year by saving the labour costs of two men," says Mr Hartwright. "And workrate improved significantly."
Control of the Arcusin is from an in-cab electronic box which features two main switches – one instigates automatic loading, the other for manual control of stacking. Mr Hartwright operates the machine with a Case MX135 which, with its powershift transmission, is deemed to be an ideal match.
The machine has its own pto-powered hydraulic system responsible for powering a series of hydraulic rams and driving the elevator.
In operation, an offset conveyor head using six parallel chains and tines picks up a bale.
Once on the conveyor, the bale is rotated through 90deg and delivered to the first platform, at which point the conveyor drive stops automatically.
An arm then pushes the bale to the back of the platform, and the process for loading the second bale starts again.
During the course of loading, a sensor detects the number of outstanding bales to be admitted on the platform. If 1.2m (4ft) wide bales are collected, allowance is made for one more, or two for 90cm (3ft) bales.
After the platform is loaded, it tips up through 90deg, pushing the bales onto the fork positioned within the main body. Other sets of bales are pushed down the length of the body until it is fully loaded as a stack.
"In formation, the stack remains tight and in even rows without overlapping but you have to keep the machine steady working downhill – uphill helps to keep the pack more firmly together," he says.
Typically, the Arcusin can carry 10 Hesston bales measuring 1.2m x 1.3m, although the machine will handle up to eight bale sizes starting from 47cm x 80cm.
The stack is offloaded by tipping the body into a vertical position where a pair of hydraulic pushers move the bales off the back of the machine.
Offloading takes 3-4 minutes outdoors, but a little longer inside an enclosed barn.
Tipping height is also a consideration for enclosed barns – the tipped height of the body is 6.4m (21ft) on Mr Hartwrights E-200 Arcusin. On the shorter bodied E-160 and E-170 units, tipped heights are 5.3m (17ft) and 5.8m (19ft).
The Arcusin has an annual workload of 20,000 Hesston bales – all of which are carted back to Grove Farms two main stacks – one near Harwell, the other at Appleford.
However, if bale quality and cultivations are threatened by bad weather, the machine can be employed to shift bales quickly on to field headlands. *