What is baling?
Baling is the process of collecting a large bundle of agricultural grasses and packing it for further agricultural services such as feed for livestock. This process is performed using hay balers, that collect the grasses and form them automatically, alleviating the need to process using manpower.
Hay bales can be shaped either square or round, depending on the requirements. Hay balers can also be fitted with optional chopping knives to ensure that the product is the correct consistency for the purpose.
How can you determine if hay is ready for baling?
Baling hay too early can result in mould, spoilage of product and even spontaneous combustion, in worst case scenarios. It’s easy to test if the hay is ready to be baled, and a simple way to do this is twisting several stalks of mown grass and placing them in a box with a few teaspoons of salt. Seal the box and shake for around 1 minute. Once you reopen the box, if the salt remains dry, the hay is ready to be baled.
Our baling fleet
We recently added two new balers to our fleet, a Kuhn round baler and a Massey Ferguson 2150 Mini Hesston square baler. Our fleet includes three round balers and three square balers, that can be used to suit a specific requirement or job.
If you require bale clearance and leading activities, these can be accommodated using our existing machinery and skilled team members. If your farming services require large quantities of sizable square bales, for clearing to the headland or back to the farm, we offer the use of a heath super bale chaser, that can keep compaction to a minimum.
How to get the best bales
Regardless of shape or size, high-quality bales that preserve the hay correctly will often follow a number of guidelines. Firstly, the quality of a bale will begin in the windrow, which rings particularly true with round balers. It is recommended that you make the windrow as wide, if not slightly wider, than the baler pickup, which allows it to feed the crop evenly across the bale.
If you find that it’s not possible for you to make the pickup as wide as the pickup, then make it less than half the width. This will allow the operator to weave from one side to the other. If one of these two methods is not followed, the bale will become barrel-shaped, with a heavy section in the centre than at the end.
Ensure that you monitor the moisture of the hay is just right, hay that is too high or low in moisture can cause nutrient loss and leaf shatter. Changing moisture, in different areas of the world, can mean that baling will need to occur in the early hours of the morning, or late at night, to take advantage of the right moisture levels. Some farmers will use a humidity meter to accurately monitor the humidity, with many opting to start baling their hay between 10% – 15% humidity.
Ensure that the hay pickup height is set accurately and follows the contour of the ground, or even just above the tine height setting, the tines must not sig into the dirt; this is a good way to check the flotation setting. The pickup floatation springs need to be adjusted to align with where the load on the pickup wheel is at a minimum. Farm operatives need to make sure that the pickup does not bounce otherwise it will fail to retrieve all the crop from the field.
Ensuring that the ground speed and power takeoff speed are matched, is vital to ensuring your round baling machines chamber is filled as quickly as is allowed by the pickup. This will keep the machine as full as possible at all times which prevents leaf loss.
Monitoring bale density manually, even if your hay baler has a density gauge, is critical. It’s important to exit the cab and ‘thump’ the bales to verify that the density of the bales is high enough to hold their shape.
Finally, it’s important to regularly maintain your hay baler machinery and ensure that you rebuild, clean and fix your machinery during your off-season. Replacing parts that are wearing down and ensuring that you regularly assess moisture before bailing, will guarantee the longevity of your machinery and produce the best results and prevent spoilage.