In pictures: high-horsepower foragers attract serious attention
The most anticipated Irish machinery event of the year, the FTMTA Farm Machinery Show, opened its doors today. Peter Thomas Keaveney takes a look at the four brands of foragers on display.

The 30th biannual FTMTA Farm Machinery Show kicked off today. Among the machines that attracted a lot of attention were the self-propelled forager harvesters.

Four brands showcased their finest forager offerings.

Krone

Krone displayed both the Big X 580 and the Big X 780 at the show. The Big X 580 is powered by an MTU 6R 585hp engine while the Big X 780 is powered by a Liebherr D9508 V8 engine, capable of churning out a substantial 775hp.

Without the header, the 580 model weighs in at 14,100kg, while on the other hand the 780 model weighs in at 16,700kg.

Both are equipped with infinitely variable hydrostatic drives with wheel motors that can travel at up to 40km/h. The 580 comes with 4WD as an optional extra, while 4WD comes as standard on the 780.

The Big X range can be equipped with a LiftCab feature, an award-winning feature designed for harvesting very tall crops such as maize.

The 775hp Krone Big X 780.

Claas Jaguar 980

Claas had its largest self-propelled forager on display at the show. The 980 is powered by a V12 Mann engine, capable of punching out 884hp. This stylish-looking machine was dressed in a black livery. It is rumoured that this trendy harvester is destined for Co Mayo.

This harvester is fitted with the new V-Max chopping cylinder that comes with various knife arrangements.

The drive axle is fitted with a double hydrostatic motor, allowing for a speed of up to 22km/h in first gear.

When turning at the headlands, it will automatically reduce the engine to 1,400rpm to save diesel. While travelling on the road, the engine speed will run at 1,290rpm.

The 884hp Claas Jaguar 980.

New Holland FR920

The FR920 is New Holland's flagship model and features an FPT Industrial V20 engine. This engine churns out a massive 911hp (670kW) maximum power at 1,600rpm to 1,800rpm.

To handle the increased engine output, the driveline and components on the FR920 have been reinforced.

New Holland has explained that the overall feeding system has been improved and now features a 12.5% bigger intake channel due to a higher lifting potential of the intake rollers.

The FR920 has a new heavy-duty four-wheel-drive system.

The engagement of the four-wheel-drive is controlled by the Terralock feature, which automatically activates and deactivates the four-wheel-drive axle depending on the steering angle setting. This is to help minimise damage to the field while turning at headlands.

The 911hp New Holland FR920.

John Deere 9600i

John Deere showcased not only one 9600i forager, but two.

The 9600i model is powered by a 625hp, 13.5-litre six-cylinder John Deere PSX engine, while the three larger models in the range are powered by a V12 Liebherr engine.

The new foragers have a reinforced drivetrain and an improved mainframe. They are also fitted with a larger crop channel with a width of 850mm, allowing them to handle a higher throughput.

The harvester is equipped with John Deere’s fully automatic ProDrive transmission. The machine comes with a choice of 40, 48, 56, or 64 knives. It has a fuel tank capacity of 1,100 litres.

The new 9000 Series foragers feature the latest forage harvesting technology. According to John Deere, the new series will provide customers with 10% more productivity while consuming 10% less fuel, in comparison to John Deere’s current higher-spec machines.

The 625hp John Deere 9600i.

New balers on the Irish market
Peter Thomas Keaveney takes a look at the various new and updated balers that have come to the market for the 2019 silage season.

John Deere variable chamber combi

The C451R and C461R variable-chamber baler/wrapper combination units are the latest additions to John Deere’s round baler range. As with the existing C441R fixed-chamber model, the C451R and C461R feature a full-frame chassis.

These balers will continue to use the Fast Release System first introduced on the 900 Series round balers in 2012, in conjunction with a high-capacity feeding system. John Deere claims that their main focus in the balers’ design has been on their ability to work in heavy, wet grass crops in addition to meeting today’s customer needs for dry straw. The machines can produce bales up to 1.85m in diameter.

Pickup

The pickup reel has a five tine bar cam track design with 6mm tines. The machine is fitted with a new reinforced wear-resistant Hardox steel rotor. There is a choice of feeding systems using the MaxiCut HC rotor with either 13 or 25 knives, controlled from the cab.

Both versions have a full-width parallel drop-floor system operated from the tractor cab, which enables blockages to be removed instantly.

John Deere claims that the C451R and C461R feature a 15% faster wrapper working at 40rpm and an 18% faster table transfer system compared to the previous C440R model. The new models come with a tandem axle as standard.

McHale recording functions

For the coming season, McHale has introduced the option of a recording function on the Fusion 3 plus machines to measure some of the variables of a bale.

These options allow the operator to provide a recording of the average bale moisture content and the average bale weight of a job completed for a customer. This information is displayed on the McHale iTouch control console and can also be printed using a receipt printer which is available as an option.

Bale weighing function

As the bale is being tipped, the bale weight is recorded before placing the wrapped bale on the ground. The weight of each bale is accumulated and the average bale weight for the job is displayed in the customer profile section on the iTouch control console and on the job receipt.

A bale moisture sensor can also be fitted as an option. This sensor is positioned in the side wall of the bale chamber. Once the PTO speed is above 400rpm, a live crop moisture value is displayed on the screen throughout the baling process.

An average moisture content reading of the bale will be displayed on the iTouch control console. This average value is then accumulated in the on-screen customer profile and on the job receipt. A receipt printer can be fitted to the iTouch control consoles on new Fusion 3 Plus machines as an optional extra.

Claas Rollant 540

The new Rolant from Claas has a stronger chassis, new rollers and offers the option of either net or film wrapping.

Claas recently unveiled an updated Rollant 540 fixed-chamber round baler, 43 years after first introducing the first Rollant back in 1976. The latest baler in the Rollant range has a stronger chassis, new rollers, and offers the option of either net or film wrapping.

New rollers

The updated Rollant has a redesigned baling chamber including 15 rollers that are manufactured from 4mm thick steel plate and have double race bearings. The drive sprockets now use a roller spline system. The rams for the back door are located horizontally on both sides of the baler, to reduce the pressure and stress exerted on the tailgate and ram components.

The updated Rollant comes with beefed-up running gear, including both chains and sprockets. The main drive and rotor are fitted with 35mm (1.25in) chains while the tailgate rollers are driven with a 25mm (1in) chain.

To help reduce the stress on the chains, the roller sprockets are larger in diameter, meaning more of the chain will be in contact with the sprocket teeth at any given time. The chains are lubricated by an eccentric pump. The lubrication interval can be altered from the control terminal. All the lubricating nipples of the MPS and tailgate are combined on the right-hand side.

Pickup reel

The Rollant 540 is fitted with a 2.10m wide pickup reel with two lateral feed augers feeding the rotor. The baler’s optional chopping mechanism has 15 knives which can be swung in from the cab, and have individual protection against collisions with foreign objects. The new Rollant baler can apply either net or film wrapping. For operating the baler, Claas has offered a choice between three options – the Claas Communicator, the Operator terminal or the Isobus terminal.

Fendt Rotana

The new Fendt Rotana has a split driveline, meaning two chains come off the main drive roller instead of one.

AGCO, the parent company of Fendt, purchased Lely’s forage range of equipment two years ago. Fendt’s new generation of round balers are based on the Lely machines but have integrated a number of new features.

The Rotana now has a freewheel sprocket that can rotate a full 360°, protecting the driveline if a blockage occurs. In the event of a blockage, the sprocket will continue to spin and the bale can slow down and run out until it comes to a halt.

The new drive concept of the Rotana features a split driveline, meaning two chains come off the main drive roller instead of one. As each of the two chains drive each roller, the power is distributed evenly. Fendt has also installed a sensor capable of measuring the uniformity of the bale density.

For the final 30% of the bale fill, an indicator on the terminal will aid the driver to achieve a uniform bale shape. Other new features include a dirt wiper for the roller bearings, new exterior panels and the balers are now Isobus-compatible.

The new Rotana combi baler/wrapper is available in a fixed-chamber version as the 130F Combi or the variable chamber 160V Combi. These combi balers have evolved from the Lely Tornado.

The new combi range features a moving arm that transfers the bale from the chamber to the lower table. To prevent slippage, the bale transfer ramp is equipped with moving side parts. Fendt has reduced the tilt angle of the main chamber to 8° in an attempt to improve stability on slopes.

Krone BigPacks doing the business in Kildare
Gary Abbott visited Peter and David Robinson in Co Kildare, who operate two Krone BigPack 870 HDP XC high-speed balers.

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.

MultiBale

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.

Twine boxes

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.

Specs

  • 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.
    Kuhn Combi doing the business in Tipp
    Peter Thomas Keaveney visited Kieran Ryan in Tipperary to see how his Kuhn FBP 3135 combination baler/wrapper performed in its first season.

    Based in Clerihan, Co Tipperary, Jim Ryan Contracting Services Ltd is a large agricultural contracting business. With 12 full-time employees, the team is kept busy during the summer months with their John Deere self-propelled silage harvester, two PÖttinger forage wagons and four balers.

    Previously running two Lely Tornado combination baler-wrappers for baling silage for eight seasons, Ryans upgraded to a new McHale Fusion 3+ in 2017 and a new Kuhn FBP 3135 in 2018. They also runs two Lely Welger balers for hay and straw.

    Pickup reel

    The FBP 3135 is fitted with a 2.3m pickup reel with five rows of tine bars. The tines have a spacing of 61mm. Owner Kieran Ryan explained that after checking through the pickup reel, it’s good to go for the season ahead, with no maintenance needed. The baler also came as standard with a crop roller.

    Kieran outlined that the short distance between the pickup tines and the rotor means there’s no dead spot for grass to sit in-between, allowing for a consistent crop flow. The FBP 3135 comes with a beefy rotor, spanning the entire width of the feed-in area. The rotor is manufactured from hardox steel.

    Knives

    Just behind the rotor sits a 23-knife selectable floor. From new, the combination unit comes with the option of either a 14- or 23-knife bank, providing a theoretical chop length of 70mm and 45mm respectively. Many Irish contractors would opt for the 23-knife selectable floor, meaning they can run 11 knives one day and 12 knives the next day.

    Each knife is spring-protected and Kuhn also has a feature that keeps the knives clean, to help chop the grass. The cleaning interval can be adjusted via the control terminal. Kieran said he has been really impressed with the throughput capacity of the pickup reel and feed roller. He typically sharpens the knives after every 500 bales.

    Kieran Ryan.

    Drop-floor

    The floor and knives can be hydraulically lowered from the cab in the case of a rotor blockage. After the blockage is cleared, they are brought back into the work position.

    When baling a raked or large swath of grass with any baler, occasionally the baler may swallow a lump of grass at the last second just before the net or film is about to be engaged, causing the slip clutch to go off. One feature that differentiates Kuhn is that the rotor drive can be disengaged from the bale chamber drive, enabling the binding and discharge of the bale from the chamber.

    The rotor disengagement and drop-floor technology allow the operator to get the machine going again quickly. Kieran said this was one feature that really stood out for him.

    The FBP 3135 is fitted with a 2.3m pickup reel with five rows of tine bars.

    Net/film binding

    Changing from net to film binding can be done without changing the film or net roll’s position. The operator has to just change the feed-in of the desired application material, the settings on the control terminal and the pulley settings at the side of the intake roller. Kieran said the pulley needed a lot of lubrication or it could easily seize, especially if working in warm dusty weather.

    When using conventional film, two rolls need to be inserted on to the reels to bind the entire width of the bale. During bale ejection, the last roller on the back door is automatically disengaged to prevent film damage. Despite people saying two rolls of conventional film work out cheaper than using the wider mantle-type film, Kieran said that based on his 2018 costings this is not true and both systems work out the same pricewise.

    Bale chamber

    The FBP 3135 has a redesigned bale chamber, consisting of 18 rollers. The rollers are made from 3.2mm thick steel and have 50mm double-raced bearings on the drive side.

    All bearings are centrally greased using a Beka Max automatic bearing greasing system. The rollers have built-in scrapers to push the material out and away from the bearings.

    Sensors on the back door monitor bale growth from 80%, notifying the operator about the baling process through the bale growth indicator and allowing them to guide the baler according to the left-right bale chamber filling indication displayed on the terminal.

    One attribute that Kieran said impressed him over 2018 season was the consistently perfect bale shape and density.

    The wrapping table is tilted forward and the transfer arm loads the bale on to the table.

    Wrapping system

    The transfer arm collects the bale as it leaves the chamber. The wrapping table is tilted forward and the arm loads the bale onto the table before the tailgate shuts automatically and the wrapping process begins. Kieran said the transfer arm on the Kuhn can be a little slower than other balers on the market but that it makes up for it with other attributes.

    The side guide protection plates allow for a secure bale transfer. The wrapping system uses a four-belt wrapping table with two large rollers and four side cones.

    When the bale is ejected from the chamber, 60% of the bale is covered with stretch film. The 3D wrapping system applies film to the edges of the bale that have not already being covered by either film or net. Kuhn claims this is to increase the form stability compared to a conventional (2D) system. After completing the 3D wrapping cycle, 80% of the bale is covered in film and the remainder is wrapped conventionally.

    The FBP 3135 sits on a tandem axle on four 500/45-22.5 flotation tyres.

    Tandem axle

    The FBP 3135 sits on a tandem axle on four 500/45-22.5 flotation tyres. Kieran said the tandem axle means the machine is very smooth on the road. He maintains it is very balanced and quite low, meaning it doesn’t get into any fits of bouncing while in transport. He said the fact that the machine is low means he can see the bale being wrapped from the cab of the tractor rather than watching it on the camera in the cab.

    Kieran said that because of the extra axle, the machine is a little long, but that it hasn’t failed to get in any gap and it has minimal tail swing.

    Comment

    After putting 14,000 bales of a mixture of silage and haylage through the FBP 3135, Kieran said overall he has been very impressed with how the baler has performed throughout the 2018 season. He noted that 90% of his customers have gone down the route of using film on film. He added: “I like the film dispenser on the FBP 3135 and furthermore the fact that I can use conventional wrap in this system”.

    Specs

    Weight: 5,600kg

    Width: 2.97m (9.41ft)

    Length: 6.4m (21.19ft)

    Knives: 23 knife selectable floor (combinations; 0-7-11-12-23)

    Bale chamber: 18 rollers

    Terminal: Isobus compatible

    Pickup: 2.3m five tine bar camless

    List price: €106,000 plus VAT