COMPARING FILM & NET BOUND BALES

KUHN completed the challenge of opening a net and film bound bales. The KUHN FBP 3135 Combination baler has the option of binding bales with net or with film. The KUHN patented* film binding system uses two regular 750 mm stretch-film rolls. It eliminates the need for special wide film, which simplifies film stocking for customers and reduces film binding costs by 37%. Film binding improves the silage quality, bale shape, stability and facilitates the opening of the bale.

Some farmers have their own preference and this feature is extremally useful. Film binding is relatively new to the Irish market. Not all balers can offer this feature which is why net binding is still quite popular in Ireland. Film binding has several key features such as less waste for recycling and the silage bale is much easier to open thanks to having less plastic applied. The operator can change the rolls without having to lift and heavy, wide film rolls up onto the machine.   There are few disadvantages of film binding that it is more expensive then net. In the long run film will cost you less and will improve your livestock’s milk yield and overall better feed quality. The operator can change the rolls without having to lift and heavy, wide film rolls up onto the machine.

If a farmer prefers net binding the contractor can switch by the push of a bottom. The KUHN FBP 3135 can carry both film and net at the same time. This makes switching from film to net an easy process without any lifting or changing of rolls. This saves time for both the farmer and the contractor.

Film Binding Key Features

  • Less plastic waste
  • Better oxygen barrier
  • Tightly packed bale
  • Easier to stack bales
  • Fast film removal
  • Ease of feeding
  • Improved silage quality
  • Less mould
  • Better feeding quality
  • No heavy lifting (net much heavier)
  • Reduced risk of bursting bales

KUHN Bale Opening Challenge

KUHN headquarters took on the challenge of opening a net and film bound bale. As you can see from the results film binding is much more efficient for farmers. There is less waste and the bale is opened a lot faster then a net bound bale. Net can cause issues when taking it off as feed can fall out as it hasn’t been compacted enough. This usually leads to mould and silage waste that cannot be fed to cattle.

Film binding produces a much firmer rounder bale making it easier to feed and stack over the winter. These bales retain its shape very well. By being tightly packed ensures no oxygen gets in ensuring no mould growth on the feed. This makes for a high quality silage bale to help with higher milk yields.

How to exchange the wrapping film rolls

How to exchange the wrapping film rolls

On a busy day of harvesting, contractors want their work to be complete efficiently, quickly, and as easy as possible. The wrapping film used on the baler-wrapper is exchanged regularly during the baling process. KUHN has made this process as easy as possible.

Watch this instruction video to see how quick and easy the process is: 

 

How does it work?

With the FBP and VBP models, the film rolls can be removed from the film magazines from a comfortable working height. The film rolls on the wrappers are also at a convenient height. The conical design of the pre-stretch rollers creates a convenient space to insert and position the stretch film. The ends of the two film rolls can be clamped in a special holder on the wrapping table to hold them firm at the start of the wrapping process. They are then released immediately so no film residues are left on the machine or on the field. When both wrapping film rolls have been exchanged and the empty rolls have been stored, the operator can quickly continue baling and wrapping round bales. 

The steps in summary:

  1. Open pre-stretcher
  2. Open roll holder
  3. Exchange film roll
  4. Close roll holder and pre-stretcher
  5. Pull film through the pre-stretcher and attach to the wrapper
  6. Repeat steps for the other film roll 

The KUHN film binding system uses the same film rolls as the film wrapping system. No special, wide mantle film is needed. An added benefit for stock management! 

Read more: 

  • Save costs with a smart approach to wrapping [link to blog 8] 
  • The right number of film layers for good forage quality [ link to blog 19] 
  • Uninterrupted baling operations [ blog 15] 

Mould in the bale can cost you dearly

Sometimes mould forms in a bale. Feeding mouldy bales to the cows involves a potentially high risk. “A small patch of mould is not a big issue, you can cut it out of the bale. But if there are several mouldy patches, it’s best to cut your losses and get rid of the affected bale,” says Sjon de Leeuw, management and strategy consultant at PPP Agro Advies. “But prevention is better than cure.”

Homogeneous composition

There are various factors that can cause mould to form in bales. The main cause is air penetrating into the bale. Crude ash in the bales also creates a risk of mould. De Leeuw: “And when the composition of the bale is not homogeneous, for instance because wet and dry grass have been mixed, mould formation is inevitable.”

Measures to prevent mould start at harvesting. The mower must be set properly to avoid crude ash in the grass. The same applies to the tedder, rake and baler settings. “If a contractor does a good job and bales, binds and wraps the crop in the right way, any risk of mould formation is already reduced during an early stage of forage production,” says de Leeuw. “Subsequently, it is essential to ensure the bales are stacked in the right way in the right place. Measures taken to prevent air entering the bales through holes caused by birds, for example, will further reduce the risk of mould.”

Feeding mouldy bales is the same as feeding toxins

“In general, farmers have difficulty throwing feed away. But that is my advice if you find a mouldy bale. Should you decide to feed your animals a mouldy bale, what you are basically doing is feeding them harmful toxins. Those toxins can cause rumen acidification, reduce milk production and lead to issues with hoof health and weakened immunity. If you delay taking action until you have to cull cows, you are much too late. Prevention is better than cure.” advises de Leeuw.

De Leeuw: “Feed losses translate to a higher cost price. If something went wrong during the harvesting process or the bale was damaged during storage, there is a high risk of mould. On average, you can expect a €0.01 feed loss per kilogram of dry matter. So, as you can imagine, the damage caused by mould can be considerable. But my strong advice is, if you discover mould in the bales, accept your losses as the financial damage will always be less severe than having sick cows. If you feed poor quality rations that €0.01 per kilogram will soon multiply and cost you dearly. And that will make the cost price far too high.”

Baling alternative forage crops

The availability of various types of forage contributes to creating optimal rations. And producing various types of forage crops yourself means you can buy less from external sources. In addition to grass, you can decide to grow lucerne, legume mixtures, herb rich grassland, cereals or clover, for example. “The motto is: always combine bales that have a rich structure quality with bales with a poorer structure. And it’s also important to keep a close eye on the protein and sugar content,” says Sjon de Leeuw, management and strategy advisor at PPP Agro Advies. 

Attention for producing and preserving forage

The nutritional value of lucerne and clover is not always evident and according to de Leeuw, highly depends on all the various steps in the production and preservation processes. If all the steps from mowing to preservation are done correctly, the crops are ideal for storing as bales. “But if you want to limit loss of leaf material with clover, you have to carefully weigh up whether to use the tedder or not in the time before baling,” says de Leeuw. “So, how can you dry the crop enough to bale it and how can you create a homogeneous bale? Clover is rich in protein. If clover is baled before it is properly dry – or is not evenly dry – there is a higher risk of heating and rotting during the preservation process. However, if the clover is over-dried by being tedded again, you will lose more leaf material than desirable. In that case, you have to accept losing the important protein content of the crop. The same advice applies to lucerne, with lucerne being even more sensitive than clover. If you want to ted the crop, do it immediately after mowing. In both cases, finding a responsible and optimal balance is key.”  

Efficient use of forage

Careful handling of grass, clover or lucerne will help maintain a good stock of forage on your farm. “So that you can minimise the quantities you have to purchase elsewhere”, says de Leeuw. “But having a good stock of forage is not where it ends. The forage must contain an optimal net energy value for lactation. The next challenge for you as a dairy farmer is getting your herd to utilise the forage well. If it becomes less tasty and palatable, you will see that reflected immediately in a lower feed intake. The rate at which forage passes though the rumen and intestines should not be too high, because this leads to a too high feed intake and too low feed utilisation and conversion. How high the rumen passage rate can or may be largely depends on which forages are available and can be fed as rations.” 

Kuhn the right combi for Monaghan contractor

Meet The Owner

Mark Niblock runs an agricultural contracting business in county Monaghan, Ireland.

Mark has a wealth of machinery knowledge, backed up by a number of years working for local contractors.  Starting out with a stand-alone baler and wrapper, he is running his own contracting business since 2016. An issue for Mark was the unavailability of drivers to operate a separate wrapper, which got him thinking about a combi-wrapper machine.

Mark said: “I saw the Kuhn FBP 3135 working at the last Grass & Muck show and it impressed me”.

Mark made contact with a well-known contractor who has a long-standing history of Kuhn balers and got his opinion on the FBP 3135. Mark took his word and struck a deal with local Kuhn dealer Martins Garage.

KUHN FBP 3135 – Key Features

Pickup and Rotor

The FBP 3135’s ability to take in grass is a key feature for Mark. It is fitted with a 2.3m pickup complete with five tines bars which run on a cam track. The pickup follows the ground very well, putting a lot of this down to the positioning of the pickup wheels.

The FBP 3135 is fitted with the Opticut 23 rotor which spans the full width of the pickup. The close positioning between the pickup tines and the Hardox steel rotor makes for a smooth, steady crop flow, regardless of crop length. The rotor’s integrated augers at either end stops grass getting blocked.

If the baler blocks while the chamber is nearly full and net or film is about to be applied, causing the slip clutch to engage, the pickup and rotor can be disengaged at the press of a button. The bale can then be bound and discharged from the chamber without more grass being fed in. This saves valuable time without turning off the PTO.

Chopping Unit

Behind the rotor is the 23 knife selectable knife bank, which can provide a theoretical chop length as short as 45mm. The knives are automatically cleaned at set intervals.

“Chop consistency is good. I’d put a lot of it down to the fact knives are a good length, passing well through the rotor tines, creating a good cut.”

Net/film binding

Both net and film can be left in position for binding. A lot of customers are moving towards film binding over net. The two rolls need to be inserted so the full width of the bale is covered and replacing film rolls is quick and easy.

Having the option to bind bales with film, as an alternative to net, is a game changer in farming. The whole process is more cost effective and environmentally friendly when it comes to less recycling.

 

Chamber

The chamber consists of 18 rollers made from 3.2mm thick steel. The drive side of each is fitted with 50mm double-raced bearings, with all bearings centrally greased using an automatic greasing system.

The rollers have scrapers built in to push material away from the bearings. The pickup and rotor are driven from the left, while all 18 rollers are driven from the right.

Sensors on the rear chamber door monitor bale formation from 80% and inform the operator through the terminal whether to fill either the left or right side of the chamber. This feature keeps bales consistently well shaped.

Transfer and wrapping

The transfer system consists of two transfer arms. The first catches the bale as it leaves the chamber, passing it on to the main transfer arm and then on to the table.

When using conventional film, the bale is already 60% covered once on the wrapper. The 3D wrapping system will start by applying film to the edges and barrel of the bale. Once 80% of the bale is covered in film, the remainder is wrapped conventionally. The 3D system is extremely fast and efficient.

Marks Verdict

As he prepares the FBP 3135 for its second season, Mark is impressed with the baler: “Its intake can’t be faulted. Regardless of row size or if it’s short grass, it still swallows it. Its’ bales have all been well shaped and solid. A few farmers have even commented over the winter on the chop quality.”

Marks FBP 3135 is fitted with 500/45 R22.5 tyres which he says, along with the tandem axle, allows the machine to travel the ground well, even in wetter conditions. The low overall height, which he believes contributes to the good crop intake, also means the bale on the wrapping table can be easily seen while it’s being wrapped.

“It has a couple of unique features that stand out, particularly the pickup and rotor disengagement and film binding using conventional film”. 

Specifications

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 cam track

KUHN GA 7631 Twin-Rotor Rake Is Handling Irish Crop With Ease

The KUHN GA 7631 Twin-Rotor Rake is proving a successful purchase for Roscommon Contractor Kenneth Harrington. This Twin-Rotor Rake stands out from competing models. Its outstanding robustness, reliability and exceptional ground following are all key features that make this machine so popular.
 
Its MASTERDRIVE GIII Gearbox is designed to ensure reliability and durability even in the most challenging conditions. The Irish crop tends to be very heavy, but this is not an issue for the GA 7631 Twin-Rotor Rake. Swath formations are clean thanks to its double-curved arms. This feature reduces the distance between tine passes allowing for raking at higher speeds. The neat swath formation ensures faster drying and makes it easier for the baler/harvester to pick up. This leads to higher-quality forage for winter feeding.
 
Protecting the ground is an essential aspect of silage-making. The KUHN GA 7631 Rake achieves less ground pressure thanks to its perfect rotor adaptation. This helps protect the ground and plant stubble promoting clean raking for higher-quality forage. The ground is undamaged, encouraging faster regrowth for the second and third cuts.
 
Hydraulic work width and windrow width adjustment come as standard. The KGA 01S electronic control box is available to control individual rotor lift to prevent damaging rows and individual hydraulic adjustment of raking height.

Kenneths Verdict

“I find the KUHN GA 7631 Twin Rotor Rake unbelievably smooth and silent. Its suspension and ground following are exceptional on uneven ground! Its MASTERDRIVE GIII gearbox can easily handle the heavy Irish crop, which helps speed our work up when under pressure. This gearbox requires very little maintenance and is extremely reliable. Its hydraulic cut-off valves used instead of mechanical stops are a nice touch as the rake never fights against itself on the headlands. Its hyper-tangential tine arms provide cleaner raking making it easier for pick-up. This feature allows us to work faster and we don’t have to worry about breaking any tines. The rake is very compact and is easily transported on roads and through narrow gaps. We are delighted with the KUHN GA 7631 Twin-Rotor Rake and glad we chose KUHN.”

 

Film Binding: more economical and greater preservation

Film bound bales, using 3D wrapping and Intelliwrap, are better preserved than net bound bales. This is a key finding to a study carried out in 2021 and 2022, conducted by KUHN in cooperation with Eurofins Agro in Wageningen. In addition, the binding and wrapping costs for film bound bales are lower than bales bound in net.

In June 2021, 12 hectares of grassland were cut and baled to create two groups of bales.  

  • Group 1: bales bound with 2.75 layers of net and conventionally wrapped with 6 layers of film.  
  • Group 2: bales bound with 3 layers of film and wrapped with 5 layers of film using 3D wrapping and Intelliwrap.  

Whilst baling, grass samples were taken by Eurofins Agro. After 6 weeks of storage, samples were taken from both bale types for feed content analysis and for conservation analysis. Forage samples were repeated after 8 months of storage. In addition to sampling, when the bales were opened, a visual assessment was made for mould present and the location of any mould patches in the bales. Finally, the study included a separate comparison of the binding and wrapping costs of both bale types. 

Film bound bales promote consistent forage preservation

The main result of the study concerned the large difference in the butyric acid concentration between the two bale types after 8 months of storage. At 9.2 grams per kilogram of dry matter in net bound bales, this was clearly higher than the 4.9 grams per kilogram of dry matter in the film bound bales. According to Bob Fabri, feed and preservation expert at Eurofins Agro, this means that the preservation process of the film bound bales were better than with the net bound bales. Fabri: ‘To put it simply, butyric acid bacteria will dominate if the conditions are not favourable for beneficial bacteria such as lactic acid bacteria. The higher the butyric acid concentration, the poorer the process of preservation.’ In this context, Fabri emphasises the importance of ensuring there is as little air in the bale as possible when ensiling. ‘The faster the oxygen is consumed by the aerobic bacteria, the sooner the anaerobic bacteria can start their work and the less energy and dry matter it costs. This result shows that this effect was superior in bales bound in film compared with net bound bales.’ 

Minimal mould formation

Another key finding is that bales with film binding were practically free of mould formation. After the visual assessment, this bale type scored 9.67 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being completely mould free. Net bales had a lower score of 6.95.  

The third conclusion is that the binding and wrapping costs for film bound bales are lower than for bales bound in net. Binding bales with film is more expensive than binding bales with net, however because the TWIN-reel binding system on the KUHN baler-wrapper uses standard rolls of stretch film instead of the more expensive mantle film, the additional costs are low. And, because a layer less of film is used in the wrapping process, the total savings on the wrapping costs are higher than the extra costs of film binding. 

Read more about the results: View Here 

Better preservation of nutritional value in your bale

The preservation process that takes place inside round bale silage has a degree of complexity. But once you understand the basic principles, it will assist in the decision-making concerning binding and wrapping bales. In simple terms: the less oxygen, the faster the preservation and the more nutritional value is retained. 

Download this infographic (PDF) 

Step 1: 

Every bale partly consists of sugar, proteins, water and oxygen. The preservation process starts and is carried out by bacteria which are naturally present in the bale.  

Step 2: 

First the aerobic bacteria get to work, these are bacteria that need oxygen. They convert the sugars with the oxygen into CO2 and water. This means loss of energy – read: sugars – and dry matter. This process continues until the oxygen is consumed.  

Step 3: 

Then the anaerobic bacteria take over that don’t need oxygen. They also use sugars but convert them into lactic acid and CO2. This process lowers the pH and increases the CO2 concentration.  

Step 4: 

Ultimately, the preservation stops, depending on the dry matter content. It stops either on the basis of the pH level, in case of a dry matter lower than 50%, so relatively wet bales. Or it stops based on the concentration of CO2, in case of a dry matter higher than 50%, so relatively dry bales. Once the preservation process has stopped, you have a very stable bale that can be stored for months and months.  

 So, the less oxygen you trap in the bale during ensiling, the faster the preservation and the more nutritional value is retained. Oxygen ingress during storage, for example by deformation of the bale or damage to the film, should also be prevented. Otherwise, the preservation process and thus loss of nutritional value starts all over again.  

Also watch the animation video about bale: 

Film bound bales promote consistent crop preservation 

The KUHN Baling Test (2021) showed that the preservation process went better in film bound bales than in net bound bales. Read more about the results in the whitepaper ‘Film bound bales promote consistent crop preservation’View Results Here

Baling – Four steps to a perfect bale

You have mown the grass and it has hit the target dry matter content. Now it’s time to bale, bind and wrap. So what is the best approach? 

1. Preparation

Before baling, it is always a good idea to lift and spread the grass with a tedder or a rake. If you don’t, the crop will flow through the pick-up unit lengthwise and will have no, or only little, contact with the knives. Then pay attention to one of the most vital components of creating a good bale – the swath. Ensure the swath is the same height and depth across the entire width. A guideline for swath width is 100-130 cm.

2. Machine settings

Setting the baler-wrapper starts at the pick-up. It is very important to avoid the pick-up tines disturbing the soil, otherwise crude ash can cause contamination in the bale. On the other hand, the loss of valuable grass must be minimised. Due to the working width of 230 cm, it is impossible to prevent the pick-up from being slightly too low at some points. So aim for a height setting somewhere in between. Adjust the height of the pick-up using the holes in the side. Simply set the desired height by pushing a pin into one of the holes. When the pick-up has been set to the right height, set the stretch film tension on the binder. Set the stretch tension using a pulley (V-belt) located on the side behind the binder. With film binding we recommend turning the pulley completely clockwise to close it. The stretch is 55% in front of the binder, with a further 15% stretch behind the binder if the pulley is closed. If the bales are bound in net, do not fully close the pulley. Depending on the quality of the net, a stretch of 5-7% is optimal. Once you have made the right settings, select the number of knives on the rotor. Depending on the version of the baler and wrapper combination, the choice is 14 or 23 knives. The number you select depends on the required cutting length: 70 or 40 mm. 

3. Setting the terminal

Set the baling pressure on the terminal in the cab. A high baling pressure creates a solid, dense bale with a firm outer layer. This makes the bales easy to handle and stack1.  We recommend using at least three layers of film to retain good bale stability. Whether you use net or film for binding, it is important to cover the bale across the width as well as possible, until just over the edges. This ensures a solid bale and reduces the risk of damage. 

4. Baling

The pick-up height has been set, the film stretch tension is correct, the baling pressure is good and the required number of film layers has been entered. Time to start baling! For the best possible bale shape and stability, make working passes that alternate between running along the left and right side of the swath. This ensures the sides of the bales are also filled properly. If the machine features a left-right indication option, use this in the final stage of baling for an even better result. Although a constant working speed is best to form a tight bale, the working speed should not be too high. The baler needs enough time to compact and form a dense bale. ’Stuffing’ the machine at high speed is counter-productive. If the bales are wrapped, 3D wrapping is preferable. This system wraps the cylindrical surface of the bale first which forces more oxygen out of the silage. This helps maintain the shape and protects the edges of the bales. 

Improved forage quality with film binding

Binding and wrapping a bale with film improves the quality of both the bale and the forage. In addition, multiple film layers improve the quality of sealing and limit the development of mould in the bale. Using the same film offers the additional advantage of having only one type of waste material and the bale is much easier to unwrap. 

The highest possible feed quality and the lowest loss of dry matter. Previously, it was standard practice to bind round bales with net then apply film layers with a wrapper. Nowadays, the combination of binding and wrapping, both with film appears to produce a better bale and therefore higher forage quality. 

As the bale is both bound and wrapped with plastic film, this eliminates the need for net completely. This film binding system uses standard 750 mm rolls of film – 60% of the bale is covered in film during the binding process and then the rest is covered by the wrapper.  

Film binding reduces mould development 

A pressure test has indicated that it takes air 160 seconds longer to permeate film bound and wrapped bales than bales bound by net. The bale is so airtight that mould has less chance to develop. Research1 also shows that the loss of dry matter resulting from mould in a net-wrapped bale (125 cm diameter) can reach more than 8.5 kg. In a film bound and wrapped bale, this is 80% lower (1.7 kg).  

Airtight bales with film binding 

To ensure forage quality, the influence of all external factors – including those of the bale – must be excluded. Using the same stretch film for both binding and wrapping creates an airtight bale that also retains its shape. By pre-stretching the film by 75%, it retracts like elastic around the bale, forcing out any air pockets and preventing from forming as the air has no way of penetrating the bale. Using the same film offers the additional advantage of having only one type of waste material to recycle and the bale is much easier to unwrap