SQUARE BALE SWITCH IS GATHERING PACE
The advent of specialist square bale wrappers has encouraged the growth of this type of silage packaging. Michael Williams reports
RECENT developments in wrapping technology are encouraging more stock farmers to switch to silage packed in big square bales.
Reduced storage space and ease of use in yards and buildings are the features attracting a growing number of farmers to swap round bales for square – for at least part of their silage crop. And contractors welcome the trend because silage provides extra acres to help spread the cost of an expensive square baler.
First developed in the mid 1980s, square bale silage presented major problems to the contractors and farmers who helped pioneer the idea. All the wrappers available ten years ago were designed for round bales only. Square bales had to be packed laboriously into individual plastic bags or arranged in mini stacks and covered by plastic sheeting. The sheets rarely remained air tight with, in some cases, disastrous results.
Ten years on, specialist square bale wrappers started to appear which, despite initial teething troubles, offered the breakthrough many farmers and contractors had been seeking. And coming up-to-date, contractors have now taken over a big slice of the bale wrapping business, with most of the current square bale machines specifically designed to suit their needs.
Typically, modern wrappers have the flexibility to wrap round bales as well as square. The Norwegian-built Tellefsdal (Danagri) AutoWrap 1514, for example, can wrap both types without adjustment. The price of the standard 1514 is £17,225; this increases to £22,250 for the Twin version, which has two stretchers and two knives to speed up the wrapping rate in the field to a claimed 60 bales/hour.
The Cross Pac wrapper from Overum is also designed to handle round or square bales, and only minor adjustments are needed to switch from one shape to the other, the maker says.
Intriguingly named, the Cross Pac tag refers to the wrapping action which starts by placing the film longitudinally around the length of the bale, and then changes to wrapping around the bales width. The result is said to be a more efficient air seal to preserve silage quality and stand up to mechanical handling, but with less film per bale used than conventional one-way wrapping.
Priced at £17,850, the tractor-mounted Cross Pac wrapper comes complete with a hand-held remote control unit.
One of the sales features highlighted by Tanco for its Autowrap 1060 range of bale wrappers is the optional Twin-Pak loading arm.
The 1060 is a trailed machine, with the Twin-Pak arm picking up the bales and loading them on to the wrapping table. It will cope with most square bales up to 1.7m (5ft 6in) long individually, along with the flatter section Quadrant 1100 type bales in pairs. Standard 1.2m x 1.2m (4ft x 4ft) round bales, weighing up to 800kg, can also be handled by the pick-up arm.
LandMec, the UK distributor, offers the standard version of the 1060 at £12,550, increasing to £14,365 with the Twin-Pak loader. Semi-automatic electro-hydraulic controls are also available.
Recent additions to the McHale range of bale wrappers from Ireland include the 995 series available in both tractor-mounted and trailed versions. The list of design features includes an electronic control with push-button operation.
Mounted inside the tractor cab, the control panel can also be used with a hand-held remote when the wrapper is working with an independent power pack. One adjustment is needed to convert a 995 wrapper to or from round bales.
The Supa-Pac 8500 series bale wrapper from Lawrence Edwards is designed for round bale wrapping, but there is also an S version which can handle round or square bales. Again, this is available with an optional electronic control providing automatic operation of all functions except lift arm operation and bale ejection. Prices for the 8500S wrapper start at £14,960.
Kverneland was one of the square bale wrapping pioneers in 1991 when they announced a conversion kit for the round bale machine distributed by Volac. This was replaced in 1993 by the UN7655 wrapper designed specifically for square bales, and this machine is now marketed in the UK by Kverneland.
Though designed for square bales up to 180cm (6ft) long, there is an adjustment to allow round bales to be wrapped. Price of the UN7655 is £21,515.
A completely different approach to square bale wrapping is available with the Multiwrapper version of the Tubeline from Grays of Fetterangus. The Grays approach is to wrap bales in an end-to-end formation, providing a sausage-shaped pack which can extend for 100m or more. One of the advantages claimed for the system is a 50% reduction in film use because the ends of each bale are not wrapped, but space to accomodate the bale sausage can be a problem.
Priced at £12,500, the Multiwrapper is capable of wrapping round or square bales. *
Bales up to 1.7m (5ft 6in) long can be picked up by the Tanco 1060.
At the top end of the market, Kvernelands UN7655 costs £21,515.
Danagri 1514EH is designed to wrap both square and round bales.