Located just outside Maynooth in the heart of Co Kildare, Peter and his son David Robinson of Robinson Farms are making the most of the grass they grow on the farm.
All grass grown on the farm is cut three times throughout the summer and is baled in either haylage or hay, equating to a figure of 20,000 bales on average each year. The farm has capabilities of both drying hay and processing larger bales of haylage into smaller plastic bags. Both hay and haylage are sold in large bales or in smaller 20kg bags to the equine industry throughout Ireland and abroad, exporting to European markets such as Germany, Malta and Spain.
David Robinson, Maynooth, Co Kildare.
The farm owns all the equipment used, from mowers, tedders, rakes and balers to drying processing equipment as well as their own trucks for haulage.
David explained that the main reason for owning all equipment is solely down to being able to cut grass or bale at short notice, not having to rely on a contractor.
“The uncertainty of Irish weather leaves us needing extra machines, so if rain is on the way we can operate fast and clean a lot of ground in a short space of time. This is important for us as we rely on producing quality hay and haylage for our markets.”
David said this is the main reason behind running two Krone BigPack 870 HDP XC balers. The baling season generally starts around 24 May each year. Baling doesn’t commence each day roughly until 11am and generally finishes around 7pm as moisture levels are the deciding factor. David explained that on a good day, the two balers are well capable of baling between 120 and 130 acres.
Both balers are five string machines capable of producing bales 80 x 70cm (2.6 x 2.3ft) in size.
The Robinsons have been running BigPack balers since 2007, starting out with a BigPack 890. The main reason for running Krone balers is the consistent density achieved throughout the bales, which is a key requirement for drying. They now operate two BigPack 870 HDP XC machines, producing bales 80 x 70 x 244cm (2.6 x 2.3 x 8ft).
Both five-string balers have HDP (high-density press) technology, theoretically meaning up to 25% denser bales can be achieved. The latest baler features Krone’s unique MultiBale system, meaning up to nine smaller bales are knotted within each bale for easier handling. The reason the Robinsons opted for this particular baler size is to accommodate transport methods, maximising the number of bales loaded into both containers for export and on to trucks for delivery.
All haylage bales are wrapped using McHale 998 square bale wrappers, of which the Robinsons operate three during busy periods. Bales are then loaded on to trailers using telehandlers and brought back to the yard to be stacked.
Active pickup and XCut (XC)
Both balers are fitted with Krone’s EasyFlow 2.3m camless pickup, consisting of five tine bars. The machines are equipped with a powered feed roller and side-mounted augers, ensuring even crop flow into the machine. David noted that the balers are fitted with heavier duty tines compared to his older machines.
The balers are fitted with Krone's Smooth start system whereby a hydraulic motor starts rotation of the flywheel before PTO is engaged.
The 870s are fitted with a 550mm rotor, arranged in a V shape to fill the bale chamber consistently. Each tine on the rotor is plated with 20mm wide Hardox knives, delivering a scissor-like cut to the crop for maximum packing in the chute. Knife banks on the balers work on a pull-out principle, whereby half the bank pull out either side of the baler for convenient access. David runs both balers with no knives as his customer base require non-chopped hay and haylage as its low moisture content leaves it already brittle. The rotor in these machines makes baling haylage much easier than it did with the older BigPack machines. The damper crops often played havoc with the baler’s VFS (variable filling system), David explained.
Variable filling system
Krone’s VFS feed sequence feeds the crop into the feed chamber using the packer and feeder tines. The crop is pre-compressed in this chamber. Once the chamber is full, the feeder rake trips and pushes the contents of the feed chamber which at this point is now called a “flake” up into the main chamber. This flake is then compressed with the large reciprocating plunger arm.
The balers are both fitted with Krone's auto lube system, reducing operator maintenance.
David has found Krone’s VFS system produces consistent flakes regardless of swath size or ground speed, creating more evenness with his bales.
Krone’s driveline mainly consists of clutch packs and drive shafts, unlike older chain-driven machines. Power to knotters is transmitted using drive shafts. This direct drive system contributes to a quieter baler and removes the need for shear pins throughout the machine. As with all square balers, the start-up procedure can often be tough on the tractor’s PTO.
Robinson Farms based in Co Kildare operates two Krone BigPack 870 HDP XC high-speed balers within their business.
Another nice feature on the balers is the hydraulic smooth start. This hydraulic motor accelerates the baler’s flywheel before the tractor PTO is engaged. Once up to speed, the hydraulic motor ceases, leaving the flywheel entirely driven by the PTO.
The Robinsons have driven their balers up until now with John Deere 7530s but have recently purchased two New Hollands, a T7.200 and a T7.210. These take advantage of the baler’s full Isobus capabilities, eliminating the need for control terminals. This allows David to have full control of the baler using its simple user-friendly screens. Both balers feature full specifications, leaving everything to do with bale length and density adjustable from the driver seat. Sensors throughout the balers inform operators of all issues that may occur, such as slipped knots, slip clutch engagement, etc.
In 2015, the MultiBale feature became optional on the 870 HDP XC. David opted for this on his newest machine. It’s a feature he uses occasionally.
“The Multi-Bale feature is used for a number of bales each year, although we find ourselves not using it during busy periods as the baler is knotting more frequently and using more string,” he said, noting that he likes to keep a number of MultiBales for particular customers but most find the full-size bales easy to handle as it is. The system is capable of tying up to nine bales into the one big bale.
David Robinson baling with his Krone BigPack 870 HDP XC high-speed baler.
These 9.4t machines are seated on sprung bogie units. The previous BigPack 890 balers were fitted with single axles. The new balers have tandem axles, removing the weight of the tractor and leaving the balers better balanced. This is a big benefit, according to David. Fitted with 620/40 R22.5 Alliance tyres, a rear passive steering axle allows for a tight turning circle with little headland scrubbing, a feature David liked also.
Double knotter technology on the BigPack 870 HDP is fitted as standard. Twine boxes are easily accessible and lift up on gas struts allowing access behind, a feature David liked as lifting the twine boxes allows dust to fall off the machine even though dust build-up is quite low compared with other balers. Twine boxes have capacity to carry 32 balls of string, more than enough for a long day’s baling.
“All going well, I seldom have to leave the tractor throughout the day after stringing up either every morning or every night.”
The baler’s on-board compressor blows its knotters out regularly while baling to ensure reliable knotting. Raising and lowering the bale chute along with the chamber ejection system is all done using electro-hydraulic switches located to the rear of the machine. The removal of the knife bank is done similarly, using switches located behind the pickup.
The BigPack 870's knife bank is split, meaning half pulls out to each side of the baler for convenient access.Weight: 9,400kg.Tyres: 620/40 R22.5.Bale chamber: 80 x 70 x 244cm (2.6 x 2.3 x 8ft).Terminal: Isobus-compatible.Pickup: 2.3m, five tine bar camless.Length (transport): 7.95m (26ft).Width: 2.99 (9.8ft).List price: €147,600 including VAT.