First In Its Class

By increasing the density of bales, producers can significantly decrease costs.

By Tharran E. Gaines | Photos By AGCO Corp.

Nearly all of us are looking for ways to reduce costs—producers, suppliers, end users. To that end, researchers at Iowa State University’s Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering department, working with AGCO,® found a way to significantly decrease the cost of transportation and storage, as well as preserve the quality of residue and other types of bales.

Iowa State’s Keith Webster led the study, which was commissioned by DuPont, to help reduce the cost of developing a feedstock supply for a cellulosic ethanol facility. “The ultimate goal was to get the cost of feedstock down to $60 per ton delivered at the plant,” explains Webster, program coordinator for Iowa State’s Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering department. “That included transportation, equipment depreciation, labor, etc.

“We developed several economic models,” he adds, noting that their research was designed to apply to any company that baled crop residue for feed, fiber or ethanol production. “To make the biggest impact on the supply chain, it came down to where the focus was on the balers. We found that if you can increase the bale density by any percentage, [cost savings were] magnified all the way down the line.”

In effect, denser bales mean more crop in each bale, and fewer bales to handle and transport. However, that also translates into less twine usage, less storage space needed to store the bales, reduced spoilage (since less surface area is exposed), and a reduction in fuel costs.

Webster explains the study first used a Hesston by Massey Ferguson® Model 2270XD baler, because the baler offered some of the highest bale densities available at the time, and it attained a bale density of around 10 pounds per cubic foot. Thanks to various tweaks and adjustments, the researchers were able to get that up to 11.5 pounds per cubic foot. However, Webster notes, using the machine in such a way—for which it was not designed—could lead to mechanical problems, even on a machine as durable as the MF2270XD.

Then, last fall, Webster and his team got a chance to test the prototype for the Hesston by Massey Ferguson 2370 Ultra High-Density (HD) baler. Right from the start, they were seeing bale densities of 13.5 pounds per cubic foot … in tougher conditions than they had faced with the MF2270XD.

Such an increase, notes Webster, can benefit just about any company that bales stover for ethanol production, as well as straw for manufacturing particleboard or grass hay for transport.

Longer Service Life

Also, since the MF2370 Ultra HD is built heavier from the ground up, customers should expect a longer service life at those high-density ratings. According to Dean Morrell, AGCO hay and forage marketing manager, that is indeed the case. “The increased maximum load capability represents a 63% increase over the MF2270XD baler and places the MF2370 Ultra HD in a class by itself,” he relates.

“Putting this in relatable terms, running an XD baler at maximum load is the equivalent of running the MF2370 Ultra HD at roughly 61% load. Consequently, the operator will benefit from increased capacity, as well as increased service life, due to beefier components and not always running at max load.”

Fact is, everything about the MF2370 Ultra HD is bigger, heavier, stronger and faster, starting at the pickup, which features a 25% capacity increase. The new baler also incorporates a step-up gearbox for faster plunger speed; a heavier, faster plunger; longer bale chamber; larger bale tension cylinders; and stronger knotters, among other improvements.

A New Classification System

As Morrell notes, the MF2370 Ultra HD is in its own class—Class 8 to be specific. Such a classification is based on a rating system for small and large square balers developed by Hesston by Massey Ferguson. The system uses rated plunger load, measured in kilonewtons (kN) of force on the face of the plunger to define each of the eight baler classes. Since 1 kN equals 224.8 pounds of force, that means the MF2370 Ultra HD baler, with its maximum load of 760 kN, can exert more than 85 tons of pressure on the bale. “Plunger load was chosen because it is the most measurable factor impacting the density of the finished bale,” Morrell says. “Bale density is a key consideration when customers purchase a square baler, because it affects the amount of material in the finished bale, bale weight, stacking, storage and transportation, as well as the productivity and efficiency of the baling process.”

Due to its ability to compress extremely dry, slick and lightweight material, Morrell says the MF2370 Ultra HD baler has already garnered a vast amount of interest from companies that harvest grass hay and crop residue. However, he says some alfalfa producers in drier climates are also looking at the MF2370 Ultra HD as a tool that could eliminate the need for double-compressing bales prior to export.