Why We Needed It
In 2013, we found ourselves taking a good, hard look at our balers. We purchased our balers over ten years ago, and they were still in good condition, we needed to make a change. The baler manufacturer didn’t seem to be putting any money towards research and development for small square balers. We needed another baler or two, but didn’t want to settle for something with so much older technology that wasn’t going to fit our needs or hold up under commercial use. There just wasn’t a small square baler on the market that we felt would adequately handle today’s windrows.
Our biggest complaint with our balers is the pickups are too narrow for windrows of straw that keep getting wider as farmers upgrade to larger combines. All the small square balers sold today were designed back when the average combine head width was 15′ – 20′. The typical combine we bale behind today is 30′ – 40′, which means we have to fit a windrow twice as big through the same size pickup.
A Failed Prototype
We partnered with an equipment manufacturer in Michigan who agreed to help design and build a self-propelled double small square baler. We got the finished prototype in 2014. This machine had a wide pickup from a big square baler and fed two separate chambers. However, we could never get it to feed evenly. We made many adjustments, but finally decided we couldn’t make the original concept work.
In the summer of 2019, we rethought the whole concept. We decided to use a tried and true Hesston three-tie baler and redesign it for our bale size. The self-propelled double baler was scrapped, and we bought two new 1844 balers.
How We Did It
The Hesston 1844 is a good quality pull-type three-tie baler. The baler was cut in two and widened (including the pickup) before getting another knotter and needle. We built a new chamber and plunger to accommodate our custom bale size. Now, with four needles and knotters, the baler could make a four-tie bale. We then added a knife just like the big bale presses use to slice the four-tie bale into two, two-tie bales. This new double baler has a single feed system, a single chamber, and a single plunger, solving the problems that doomed the self-propelled prototype.
We used the first double baler to make 70,000 bales throughout the 2020 hay and straw season. After lots of tweaks, we are now satisfied with the quality, shape, and weight of the bales it produces. We are working on making those adjustments to the second double baler, and have run them side by side. These balers truly double the production of our single commercial balers. We are also able to eliminate one tractor and one operator for every double baler.
Where Do We Go From Here?
At this point, the manufacturer in Michigan plans to make a limited quantity of these double balers after evaluating the production costs.