Based just outside Callan in Co Kilkenny, Stephen Dunne runs a sizable agricultural contracting business, alongside a herd of dairy cows and a tillage enterprise. With a mixed fleet of John Deere, Fendt, Valtra and Claas tractors, he undertakes all forms of agri-contracting, from pit silage to slurry to reseeding. The business was started by Stephen’s late father, Jack, in the 1970s. It started off square baling, before expanding to round baling with the purchase of a Welger RP 12 in 1988 and a RP 200 in 1994. It wasn’t until 1998 that Stephen ventured into silage making, with the purchase of a new Welger RP 200 (chopper version) and an O’Connor wrapper. Today, baling makes up a major portion of the business’ workload.

History with balers

“In 2000, I upgraded the Welger RP 200 for a new RP 220. In 2003, I made 33,000 bales with one baler, baling 10ft swarths of grass. They were a great baler. In 2005, I bought two new Welger RP 235s. In 2006, I decided to try a McHale baler, and bought a new F550, trading a RP 235. The following year I traded the McHale for a new RP 235 again. I upgraded again in 2008 and in 2012 I bought two new Welger RP 245s. In the following years, it was getting harder to find good drivers and from an efficiency point of view, I decided to go down the route of combination balers for the first time. More and more farmers were beginning to enquire about using film on film. In 2014, I decided to buy two new McHale Fusion 3+ balers. I felt that they were the only machine on the market that ticked all the boxes for what I was after,” said Stephen.

“I added another Fusion 3+ in 2016, which brought me to three Fusion 3+s. I traded another in 2018, bought two new Fusions in 2020, two more in 2021, two more in 2022 and two more last year. Today, I am running two Fusion 4+s and a Fusion 3+. I am planning to keep these balers for this year, and possibly trade two again next year,” said Stephen.

"In the right conditions, the Fusion 4s are capable of turning out over 70 bales per hour, they are unrivalled."

“We make a lot of bales and where possible, I like to have a fixed cost system, so I know exactly what different machines are costing me to run. When I upgrade the machines on a regular basis, its costing me €1/bale on depreciation to change. So, if a baler has 20,000 balers, it’s upgraded to a new machine for €20,000 etc. I like to move my balers before they cross 40,000 bales. This means I get very little pick-up, knife bank or bale chamber issues with any machines. It’s one thing less to worry about when things are busy,” said Stephen.

The McHale Fusion

McHale unveiled its first Fusion integrated baler wrapper combination in 2001, at a time when there were very few combi units on the European market. McHale launched its new Fusion 4 range at the Ploughing Championships in 2022, ahead of the 2023 season. The range is made up of three models, namely the standard, the Pro and the Fusion 4 Plus.

Profi-Flo pick-up

With the Fusion 4, buyers can choose between a five-tine bar cam track pick-up or, the optional, six-tine bar camless pick-up. The Mayo manufacturer designed the Profi-Flo pick-up to increase crop intake through more efficient crop flow. A new tapered feed channel encourages the crop to flow from the pick-up, towards the rotor and into the bale chamber.

With the new range, McHale fitted the pick-up with a heavier driveline to reduce chain loading. They also introduced the Adaptive Intake feature.

This was designed to allow the intake area to automatically adjust up and down to changes in material flow. It automatically adjusts the intake area to better handle uneven and lumpy rows, while reducing the chances of a blockage occurring.

“I can only describe the new pick-up as perfect. It works, and it doesn’t break tines. As we’re changing the balers so often, we rarely even have to replace a tine anymore in the camless pick-ups,” added Stephen.


The Fusion range comes fitted with a 540rpm split drive gearbox as standard, while a 1,000rpm gearbox is available as an option. The 1000 rpm gearbox results in an increase in PTO speed with a reduced torque. In turn, this reduces sharp loading on the drive line, with McHale claiming it provides the clutch setting with 10% more capacity.

The balers can come with the Topcon built Iso-Play 7 or Iso-Play 12 control console (latter is optional extra).

The gearbox design distributes power to both sides of the machine. The rollers in the bale chamber are driven from the left-hand side of the machine and the pick-up and chopper unit are driven from the right-hand side of the machine.

Like its Fusion 3 predecessor, the Fusion 4 has a 25-knife chopping unit and comes as standard with a selectable knife bank. Essentially, there are two knife banks in the chopping unit that can be activated and deactivated individually with various knife configurations.

“We put a new set of knives into the balers every morning.

“We are lucky to have a neighbour Jim Dalton, who comes to my workshop everyday to just sharpen knives. Jim is a retired mechanic, and looked after my father’s fleet of New Holland square balers over the years. Jim has sharpened knives ready for the drivers to put into the balers every morning. We have a machine for sharpening the knives, and also use a bench grinder. We generally run 300 bales through a set of knives, before swapping the set on the selectable knife bank. “It’s the only way to chop bales,” said Stephen.

Bale chamber and wrapper

The bale chamber is comprised of 18 rollers, manufactured from high-grade tubular steel. Single sprocket rollers on the chamber drive side are equipped with 50mm shafts and bearings. Rollers under the most load are fitted with double row bearings. All rollers fitted with double sprockets are equipped with 55mm shafts and double row 55mm bearings.

The non drive side of the bale chamber is also fitted with heavy duty 50mm bearings. With the Fusion 4, McHale carried over the proven vertical wrapping ring used in its previous generation of Fusions.

The wrapping unit is fitted with two 750mm dispensers and wrapping speed has been intensified. McHale says four layers of wrap can now be applied in approximately 18 seconds.

IsoBus controls

The standard Fusion 4 comes with a basic Expert Plus control terminal, while all Fusion 4 Pro and Plus machines are IsoBus compatible as standard, meaning they can be plugged into any IsoBus tractor connection and operated via the tractor’s own terminal.

“The balers can also come with the Topcon built Iso-Play 7 or Iso-Play 12 console (latter is optional extra).

“My Fusions all feature the seven-inch Topcon terminals. I like the smaller screens, they are neater and there’s less clutter in the cab,” said Stephen.


“I bought my first McHale baler in 2006, and it wasn’t a good move. I moved to McHale again in 2014, and I haven’t looked back. Since McHale brought the latest changes to the last of the Fusion 3s in 2022, and then onto the Fusion 4 in 2023, I don’t think there’s anything on the market to touch the Fusion 4. The pick-up, the bale chamber, and the wrapping system are all bulletproof. In the right conditions, the Fusion 4s are capable of turning out over 70 bales per hour, they are unrivalled. I’m very happy with the McHale balers, I wouldn’t even entertain demoing any other machine,” concluded Stephen.

  • Model: McHale Fusion 4 plus.
  • Knives: 25 (selectable knife bank).
  • Rollers: 18 rollers (4mm thick) with 50 and 55mm shafts.
  • Net/NRF capacity: Four rolls.
  • Film capacity: 12 rolls (two in use, 10 stored).
  • Weight: 5,800kg empty.
  • Width: 2.76-2.94m (9’ – 9’8”).
  • Wheel size: 560/45 R22.5.
  • List price: €98,000 plus VAT.
  • Likes

  • Intake capacity.
  • Reliability.
  • Output.
  • Dislikes

  • Plastic dispensers can jam in warm weather.