Swapping to McHale’s Orbital wrapping ring system has given a forage specialist the output he needs.
Often finding himself starting to wrap bales at 6pm, getting a machine which could speed up the process was a crucial consideration for Leicestershire farmer and contractor Richard Lovett.
In addition to his own 63 hectares where he raises suckler cows and fattens pigs with his partner Hannah Vickers, Mr Lovett also offers a full forage contracting service from Fields Farm near Measham.
He says: “Output is key. I have put in some very long hours, so a wrapper with high work rates is a must.”
Having discussed the options with McHale, he was looking to replace a trailed HS2000 round bale wrapper.
No stranger to the Irish firm’s kit, he also has a V660 belt baler in his fleet. In the end it was the company’s latest Orbital wrapper which ticked the boxes.
Mr Lovett says: “I have looked at others, but the McHale kit has proved to be well built.
“I have also considered a combi-wrapper, but it would not be suitable as I bale a lot of straw.”
Arriving in 2017, the Orbital uses a collecting arm to gather the bale and then lift it on to a low tilting wrapping table, where film is applied via twin dispensers on a vertical wrapping ring.
This offers wrapping times of 18 seconds when applying four layers of plastic and fewer than 25 seconds for six layers.
Once wrapped, the cut and hold mechanism gathers the film to one point to cut it evenly, and the rear of the table drops down to place the bale on the ground.
Bale tip can also be manually controlled to place the bale in a safer position on hilly ground.
“I can easily wrap 70-80 bales in an hour,” says Mr Lovett.
“Due to the design of the transfer system I can pull up to another bale and pick it up while the previous bale is still being wrapped.
“The land is not too hilly, but there are small fields and the wrapper has always felt stable in tight corners.”
The Orbital can be adjusted via the in-cab controls to adapt to bales from 1.1 to 1.45m in diameter, and it will manoeuvre a bale into the correct position even if it is not presented straight, says the manufacturer.
“However, it does work best on well-shaped bales,” adds Mr Lovett.
“So I always prefer to bale and wrap.”
He suggests the wrapping ring offers smoother, more consistent application than s a t e l l i t e s , and the switch from four to six layers is described as a ‘five-second job’ using the control box, which has a large LED screen with an icon displaying wrapping progress.
“It is almost too easy to use,” he says. “Unless you are changing settings, once it is set up, you do not have to touch the control box.
“The bale counter allows me to create subtotals for each job and then transfer them to my invoicing system at the end of each day’s work.”
A drawbar-mounted frame holds six rolls of film in addition to the two carried on the dispensers, but Mr Lovett says this is not enough for a long day’s work.
“If we are busy, I fit an additional frame to the front of the tractor to hold more rolls,” he says. Mr Lovett relies on his main tractor, a 155hp Claas Arion 640 to pull the wrapper, but suggests that 90hp would be sufficient.
To swap the film rolls, the nearside guard is unlocked with a tool and swung clear. A button on the frame manoeuvres each dispenser to within reach to remove the empty roll and fit the full one.
For transport, the loading arm folds up within the frame and the wrapping table shifts across from its offset working position to follow behind the tractor. LED road lights are standard.
Mr Lovett says maintenance is straightforward, with 12 grease nipples to attend to, and that reliability had been good, with just one hydraulic burst in three seasons.
“I wrap 4,000-5,000 bales a year and it is capable of more,” he says.
“It was supplied by John Knight at Belton, but McHale also keeps an eye on it and are always on the end of the phone for any queries. We would expect to keep this machine for at least 10 years.”
And that is a prospect he looks forward to, he adds.
“It is a high quality wrap, certainly the best I have used, and is so quick and easy to use,” he says.