From High Hayne Farm, Patchacott, Devon, Graham Hill runs a general contracting business that leans heavily towards grass silage production for customers. In addition to clamp silage, he also produces and wraps round bale hay and silage.
Until mid-way through the 2019 season, GP Hill Agricultural Contractors a traditional system, with baling and wrapping carried out as separate operations.
“I started to look at combination baler-wrappers so I could operate more efficiently,” he says. “With plans to change my baler and wrapper, and take the costs of a tractor and operator out of the job, a combination machine became the logical choice.”
“After a string of demos and quotes, the stand-out machine for me was Vicon’s FastBale. I looked at most models on the market, but this was the only machine that offered non-stop baling and wrapping.”
“And when you make a lot of bales, you can easily waste a lot of time waiting for bales to transfer onto the wrapper – and that’s a lot of downtime,” he says.
By the time the deal was done – through local Vicon dealer Vincent tractors – the bulk of the season’s workload was complete. But Graham Hill still put 5,000 silage bales through the machine in the closing stages of the 2019 season.
“The bales are unbelievably well packed,” he says. “We’re sealing in the quality, and creating dense, heavy bales that do keep their shape.”
Adjusting to the non-stop baling and wrapping process, Mr Hill has learned to stop automatically reaching for the clutch pedal.
“You have to trust what’s going on, and also what you see on the control screen,” he says. “What I have found is that you just work to the speed of the wrapper, so there’s no need to race down the rows.”
“FastBale is much more than just a non-stop baler wrapper – it has improved field clearance logistics too,” says Graham Hill.
“The Tellus Pro dual screen universal terminal is also joy to use. To begin with, I let the machine work in its auto mode, and once I was familiar with the kit, I started to over-ride a lot of functions,” he says. “And this is where I’ve really made some huge improvements to the way we work.”
He says that by watching the pre-chamber and main chamber filling processes, and opting to hold completed bales on the wrapper, he can choose where bales are dropped.
“Using manual over-ride, it has become very easy to drop bales at either end of a field – or place them in rows in larger fields,” he says. “This makes it much easier and quicker to clear a field. There’s no need for the handler or loader tractor to chase across the fields collecting bales and the efficiency gains are enormous.”
“Field size and crop density dictates where and how bales can be dropped – and I’ll choose auto or manual over-ride to suit,” he says. “It’s a very impressive machine that lets me put a bit of extra thought into logistics.”
His initial concerns of machine length were soon quashed by the FastBale’s innovative folding wrapper table.
“In transport mode, FastBale becomes a very short, manoeuvrable baler, and this is ideal when negotiating narrow lanes and tight field gates,” he says. “I’m really looking forward to next season. I can see that the increased efficiency from FastBale will create many extra opportunities to benefit my business.”
19th November 2019