Round baler

Introduction

The round baler has in resent years become quite dominating in harvesting hay and straw. Rundballene er svært hensiktsmessig når lessing og handteringen skal foregå maskinelt. Since round baling has become so popular it is therefore many producers that make almost identical round balers. It is quite unbelievable how identical they in fact are. The question then is if they can be even more efficient, reasonable priced and demand less packing folio, energy and manning to do the job.

History

The concept with round baler was first made by the pioneer in this field Ummo Luebbens as early as in 1910. Allis Chalmers introduced their version in 1947 and sold their round baler up to 1960. The round baler then had a 48 inches wide (120 cm) with but a diameter of only 16 inches (40 cm). The modern round baler was designed as late as in 1972 and has hardly been altered since that. The round baler width on most round balers is still 48 inches but the diameter has been increased to 72 inches (135 cm). The only large change is that many round balers in the latest years have been equipped with bale wrappers as an integrated part of the baler. Picture 1 shows a typical stack of wrapped bales. The large widespread of round balers has appeared through the latest 20 years. The round baler is therefore a rather new invention if you compare with other agricultural equipment and machines.

Picture 1. A typical round baler stack. The most common round bales today has a 72 inches (135 cm) diameter and a 48 inches (115 cm) height.

What is wrong with the round baler?

Actually it should be much to improve on a concept that is so ”young” in agricultural scale and when we se how little optimal agricultural equipment is in general, so it is maybe time to look critically on this equipment as well. The round balers are indeed produced by the same producers that deliver other types of old fashion and suboptimal agricultural equipment, so why should the round baler be an exception. I therefore mean that also this solution needs a strict examination. Because when you look how identical the round balers are designed, it is a bit difficult not to avoid thinking of the saying that tells us that where everyone thinks equal, not much is thought. Maybe the round baler design is not that optimal? How should a round baler be designed if it should be optimal from the demands in tomorrows farming? One should maybe base it on today’s technological possibilities without looking too much on the old balers design. We wish to contribute to design a new round baler by starting a thorough examination of the limitations with today’s solution and proposals to what is possible to reach here and now.
From making a carefully study of the mode of operation, and the entire technical solution that are most common my opinion of what is wrong can in short be summed like this: Very much. Let us start with looking at some of the largest weaknesses and limitations with the present round balers. I begin from the front and goes successively backwards.

  1. The pickup system.
  2. The present pickup system is a clear limiting factor both for the round baler speed and the baling capacity. It is impossible to run especially faster with the present system. And this is a very important point because if one equipped the round balers with a pickup system that accept twice the today’s speed, then the round balers capacity could be doubled. In clear text this means that you then can invest in one baler and one tractor where you today must use 2 balers and 2 tractors. Consequently, an investment of € 250 000 ($ 300 000) today could be reduced to € 125 000 ($ 150 000) in the future. That’s a lot of money. If you calculate with a 10 years equipment life length, you will have saving of € 12 500 ($ 15 000) every year only on the investments. In addition you have the savings on wrapping folio, fuel, interests etc. Money that then can og direct to increased salaries. With the present stressed profitability in farming this should be highly appreciated. And on the top of this 1 person can in the future bale just as much as 2 persons manage today. That will also increase the profitability considerably. I can unfortunately not describe the new pickup solution in this article because the solution must be patented before it is shown because else the possibility for patent gets lost. What I can write is that it will be considerably simpler and consist of substantially fewer parts. And parts that doesn’t exist ca as known not be destroyed. In addition the new pickup solution will treat the fodder much gentler and thus it will be less loss of blade mass.

  3. Higher round baler pressure.
  4. It is still space for packing the bales much harder. This is important because if you can press 50 % more fodder into the same round ball, then the transport will be less voluminous and thereby transport more each time. Besides the storage become less space demanding. When wrapping the plastic folio consumption will be reduced by 35 % and you get fewer bales to handle. Since you anyway only can handle the round bales with machines the extra weight means nothing in comparison to the reduction in number of bales. But the most important here is that the crop quality will be better because it became less air in the round bales and thus the conservation will be better. We will shape the press chamber in quite another way so the baler can press the baler much harder at the same time as we can reduce the weight of the baler considerably. Also here we wish to patent before we shows the solution to anyone. And since the production expenses are approximately in proportion with the material consumption, the price can be reduced. More fodder in each round bale gives less stop in the baling and thus more baled fodder in the same time. Higher efficiency with one tractor and baler. Better economy.

  5. Automatic weighting of all bales and adding of weight on each round bale.
  6. I reckon that you have heard the notion “to sell rubber string by inches”. Baling reminds me today suspicious about that. While most other like wheat and corn are sold by weight all baling, selling and buying is only from number of bales. I.e. No one knows exactly what they harvest, what they pay for getting baled and what they buy or sell. This because one doesn’t know how much each bale weight. If one make loose bales, the ones that do rental baling will get paid for more bales. If one bale harder the one that sale bales get too little for the fodder. It will anyway be wrong. Therefore we will equip our round baler with weighing machine that weight the round bales and mark each bale with its bale weight. In addition the round baler will be equipped with a computer that registers how much fodder you have harvested totally. Then it is possible to get exact summary of how much you harvest on each field and you can at all time have control of how much you feed the beasts. Actually it should have been a matter of course long ago in all modern farming.

  7. Better wrapping.
  8. We will make a wrapper direct on the baler that are wrapping at the same time as you bale further. That many others do as well and one saves time and labor and driving by doing so. But there end the similarity. When we at present see how one wrap the plastic folio over the ends on the round bales over and over again in a way that for each layer folio you have where it is thinnest you have almost 7 layers where it is thickest. That will say that if you wish 6 layers as minimum you will get 42!! layers where it is thickest. Of course the number of layers should be equal all places. If you instead can get even packing with 6 layers you will reduce the plastic folio consumption to one sixth. If you use € 12 ($ 16) in plastic folio on each bale today you can reduce it to € 2 ($ 3) each round bale. If you wrap 1000 bales each year you will use plastic folio for € 2 000 ($ 3 000) instead of € 12 000 ($ 16 000). Considerably savings. All plastic used for unnecessary wrapping is wasted money. In addition it represents extra handling, both when the plastic is new and when it shall be recovered. Our wrapping solution therefore will of course be quite different from the one’s you see today.

  9. Less driving on the grass stub.
  10. All driving on the grass stub is harmful and reduces and delays the growing. In order to cause as less driving as possible on the stub we will deliver the baler with additional equipment so that it can carry one or two additional bales to the edge of the field. Thus it will be less driving on the field. Since one round bale, even with our hard baling hardly weights more than 1500 kgs, the total weight of the equipage still is low even with 1 or 2 extra bales. The additional trailer will as the round baler, have large floating tires so the soil pressure becomes modest. When the trailer is dimensioned just to stand the weight of the bales it will be light weighted and thus moderate priced. An additional point is that when you drive on places where the round bale can start rolling, you can wait unloading until you reach in a safe place.

  11. Tires and wheels.
  12. I have with great surprise recognized that several producers lately have equipped their round balers with tractor pattern tires. One should almost believe that this was to make fun of the farmers. First of all tires with tractor pattern are more expensive than smooth tires so the producers don’t save anything. But the tractor pattern tires have edges that cuts and destroys the grass stub and the roots and make damage to the regrowing. It has been done studies on driving with tractor tire pattern on grass field several years ago and that of course showed reduced growing. Everyone understands that it might be necessary with tractor patter non driving wheel on the tractor, but I can not see one single good reason to equip a round baler with tires with tractor pattern. I think you should ask why next time you meet a producer’s representative because I think they should have a very good explanation why they do this. The tires should of course be as even as possible. In my opinion it is also better with simple, large and wide wheels on the balers in stead of bogie. Our baler will at least not weight so much that it is necessary with bogie and even with 2 bales the weight will be only 2 – 3 metric tons. I believe that no one will think of equipping a so low weighted tractor trailer with bogie. Furthermore a bogie solution is much more expensive than a single wheel solution because the bogie solution contains more than twice as much parts and the production costs is approximately in proportion to the number of parts. The bogie breaks also much more by narrow turns and that rubs the root system apart. But someone maybe think it looks tough? I don’t know.

  13. Better balance in the baler.
  14. We feel that the round balers should be designed different to get more optimal and thus a more light weighted design, but that probably don’t surprise you since the whole pickup system baler system and the wrapping system shall become different.

Less running expenses and investments gives you increased earnings.

In that way you can get more utilization out of a costly machine and thus exploit the fine weather better. Besides, we reckon that we can halves the weight and number of parts. In that way we hope also to reduce the price to approximately 50 %. Half price and twice the capacity should be a good target because then the investments would be reduced to one fourth in comparison to the capacity. How much you could earn extra if you got the possibility to change to such a better and reasonable priced round baler with higher capacity you must evaluate yourself. But it will be much when you sum up everything.

Reflections

We are scared today with that the standard of living is in proportion with the energy consumption. This repeats with VERY high loudness, probably to shadow that this do not need to be the case. One has in reality quite poor instance of these allegations. Take for instance the light bulb. When we changed from light bulbs to saving bulbs the energy consumption was reduced to one fifth with the same light brilliance. The lifetime became 5 times longer. You didn’t get lower standard of living from that. Now we are going to LED light. Then the energy consumption again will of down to 1 fifth of the energy consumption of the saving bulb with the same light brilliance and lifetime will be 5 times longer than for saving bulbs. Nor this will give you lower standard of living.
Almost equal results we can achieve in nearly all technical areas, even technical equipment and machines for farming business. As for instance round baler that I have written about in this article. It will not be lower standard of living in the farming business and the rest of the society if we change to less energy consuming techniques her as well. On the contrary, the standard of living will be higher.

If you maybe is interested or have views we hope you will contact us on: flagro@fladby.com so we can map the interest. Flagro’s internet site is: http://flagro.fladby.com

© Tron-Halvard Fladby/ 21.1.2007