Reflecting on his first season with a Vicon FastBale, Midlothian farmer and contractor Andrew Sommerville says the efficiency gains are superb.
“Non-stop round baling is spectacular – but better than that, it saves me time,” says Andrew Sommerville from Smeaton Farm, Dalkeith. “The non-stop process has made my life easier and more efficient.”
“FastBale is spectacular - it’s probably the best investment in productivity that I have ever made,” says Andrew Sommerville.
“You don’t realise how much time is lost, when you stop to apply film,” he adds.
From the 300-acre family farm, Mr Sommerville grows a range of combinable crops alongside grassland, which provides round bale silage for his 45-head of suckler cows. In addition, he offers contract services for local farmers, which has helped him to clock-up around 3,000 bales with the FastBale, supplied by local dealer Henderson Grass Machinery.
“I can see the benefits of such a clever system,” he says. “But the first time I used the FastBale, it was a little bit intimidating compared to my previous baler-wrapper combination. There’s a lot going on.”
“But I soon got used to the way it works,” he adds. “In silage, I choose manual bale drop, but with lighter haylage and straw bales, I leave the system to run automatically.”
Used with a 160hp Valtra N163 four-cylinder tractor, he says that more power would be handy on the hills, but for silage baling, the tractor is comfortably on top of the job.
“I’ve found that finding a constant speed is the key to consistent output,” he says. “Our average field size is 11 acres, so there is always some lost productivity moving between them. But the FastBale’s wrapping table simply folds up, and makes the whole machine very manoeuvrable.”
He has equally high praise for the machine in straw, too.
“I appreciate that a fixed chamber machine is not geared towards straw baling, but it’s my only baler, so it has to step-up,” he says. “And it’s works very well indeed picking up a 22ft swath of spring barley straw. It’s effortless.”
“It was very much a gamble, because my previous baler-wrapper combination worked ok,” says Andrew. “Though I wouldn’t want to go back to having to stop to apply film after every bale. It’s probably the best investment in productivity that I have ever made.”