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Common mistakes to avoid when using balers


When baling hay or straw, a streamlined netwrap process is crucial. Messing things up with your baler can lead to headaches – unravelled bales, breaking netwrap, reduced fodder quality – resulting in wasted time and money.

It may seem basic, but nailing your netwrap process is essential for efficient baling and quality hay and straw. How can you tell if your baler process needs adjusting? Here are some red flags:

  • Bales falling apart
  • Mouldy or rotten bales
  • Bale wrap breaking
  • Needing more netwrap per bale than expected
  • Baling taking longer than planned or stoppage during baling
Avoiding these common netwrap mistakes will get you back on track quickly.
  1. Mistakes with balers

A common slip-up is forgetting routine baler machine maintenance. When baler machine parts wear out, you risk mid-operation breakdowns. Also, remember to keep the rollers in the baling chamber clean, especially when baling wet crops.

Top tip: Disengaging the PTO when ejecting a bale will limit damage to the netting, especially during the start of the baling season.

How to prevent bales from bursting

  1. Choosing the wrong strength of netwrap

Not all round bale wrappers are created equal – some bale netwraps are custom-designed for high-density crops. Before buying, check the netwrap strength. Can it handle the weight and pressure of your bale size and crop type? Choosing the right netwrap strength can speed up baling by reducing the number of wraps per bale.

Top tip: Choose the suitable round bale wrapper net strength or select the optimal number of rotations depending on your crop type.

  1. Not taking care of your netwrap

You’ll get the best out of your netwrap if you care for it. This means keeping the roll in its packaging until you use it. The cardboard core has to be kept perfectly dry as it can affect the operation of some makes of baler machines.

Top tip: If you are using a roll that has already been used in the baler, trim any loose threads hanging from the net.

Taking care of your net wrap

  1. Not covering bales edge to the edge

Netwrap covers a bale better than twine, of course. But if the bale wrap doesn’t fully cover the width of the bale, product quality is at risk. Depending on the size of the exposed area, up to 15% of the bale width can be left unprotected. For the best quality hay and straw, use a netwrap that covers the bale edge to edge with no exposed areas.

Top tip: Even just 10 cm of an uncovered edge can expose up to 15% of the bale volume to spoiling. So make sure your netwrap fully covers the full width of the bale.

  1. Mishandling bales from your netwrap baler

When moving a round bale with a forklift, ensure that it is spiked on the ‘open’ or flat side of the bale. Spiking a bale on the curve will damage the netting which may cause unravelling of the product. If available, use a bale grab when moving wrapped hay bales to prevent damaging the net wrap.

Top tip: When loading and moving wrapped bales, be careful not to drag bales and scrape the netwrap.

  1. Not doing the maths

How many bales per roll of bale netting? Resist the temptation to eyeball the netwrap and go with your gut. Calculating the right amount of netwrap is critical for efficient, cost-effective baling. Using the correct amount of rotations minimises losses during handling, preserves bale integrity, and maintains nutritional quality.

These tips can help avoid some baling problems many farmers face when using bale netwrap but it may take some trial and error to refine your netwrap baling process. Sticking to best practices as recommended by your baler manufacturer and round bale netwrap supplier will pay off in the long run with well-preserved quality bales.

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