MELROSE FARMER’S BALE WRAPPING SYSTEM PROVES COST EFFECTIVE

Just one season’s experience with his EL-HO Silo-matic 420 bale wrapper has convinced borders farmer Andrew Wood that, in his own words, “it is a very cost efficient system producing a valuable product.”

Mr Wood, of Halidean Mill, Melrose, farms some 800 acres in partnership with his father Robin. The acreage is mainly grassland, plus 300 acres of Spring barley and oats.

Livestock consists of a beef herd of 70-80 Aberdeen Angus Cross X Belgian Blue Cross cows, and 750 Scotch Cheviot Mule ewes. They also finish about 100 cattle a year.

Quality is an important factor when making big bale silage for both the cattle and the sheep. “Compared to our previous wrapper, we are finding a far, far better product coming out. We have got rid of the mouldy bits, which makes a big difference.”

The EL-HO wrapper was acquired last June. “We had one or two machines on demonstration and looked around at the Royal Highland Show before we made our minds up”, said Mr Wood.

“I was quite impressed with the EL-HO. It’s very strong, it’s simple and it seems very efficient.

“We’ll have made 1200-1500 bales with the new wrapper, on the basis that we normally make over 2000 bales in a year.”

Rear-mounted on the Case 844 3-point linkage, the wrapper has a chain drive, with two large, anti-slip polymer coated rollers eliminating the need for potentially troublesome linking belts.

“A big plus to me is that it is a roller rather than a belt machine,” says Mr Wood. “This makes it so much better for the bale turning, especially if the bale is slightly out of shape. In fact, we’ve never had a bale that’s not turned. So you’re getting a very consistent wrap. “

Another feature of the machine is the freewheel in the drive chain, which ensures smooth offloading and so prevents film damage. “We definitely had film damage with the old machine, but not with this one.”

The machine is very simple to operate, says Mr Wood, and is set up for automatic control and monitoring.

Most importantly, the wrapping operation has been significantly speeded up. “We bale, bring in and wrap everything at the stack,” says Mr Wood. “I don’t like wrapping in the field – the less we handle the bales once they’re wrapped, the better.

“Now, we are actually keeping up with the Welger baler. It means that at the end of the day, we stop when the baler stops. Before we were having to stop the baler at six o’clock to finish by eight o’clock.”

It has also enabled them to save one man on the silage baling and wrapping operation. “It’s just having the convenience of our own automatic wrapper. It’s made a big difference.”

And as far as the quality of the wrapped silage is concerned, Mr Wood confesses to being “over the moon”.

“Before we did seem to have mould in the silage, obviously the plastic wasn’t wrapped tightly enough. With the new machine, the only time I’ve ever come across any mould is where the plastic’s been fractured. This is nothing to do with the wrapper and more likely to have been caused by our handling.”