|Rebaling Big Bales
Last year, the Whipple Simpson family of Cochran, Georgia, unrolled 8,000
big bales of wheat straw and 2,000 of bermudagrass hay, and repackaged
the material into 152,000 small rectangular bales.
Wheat straw. “Our original reason for designing and
building equipment for rebaling was to allow us to gather more wheat straw
in a limited amount of time,” Simpson says. “Later, we started rebaling
hay. We’re creating a size of bale preferred by our feminine horse-owning
clientele by converting big, 650-pound round bales into 40-pound rectangular
Simpson says farmers in his area often follow what with a double
crop of cotton or soybeans. To get maximum yields, they need to
plant beans or cotton as soon as they’re done harvesting wheat.
Hurry. “When we have good weather, our wheat harvest
only lasts about three weeks,” he says. “We bale straw with two
big round balers running right behind the combines. The round balers
allow us to gather more straw than when we used machines that made small
Simpson and a son, Henry, spent seven years designing and building
prototype machines that led to their current rebaling equipment.
After unrolling big round bales, the machinery feeds the straw or hay
into a conventional rectangular baler.
Other farmers have tried rebaling after putting material through a tub
grinder, Henry says. But the Simpsons’ equipment doesn’t cut or
grind, and forage with loger fibers is generally more desirable feed for
horses, cattle, and sheep.
It takes the Simpsons at least two minutes to put each big bale
in the hopper of an unroller and remove the strings. It then takes
about six minutes for unrolling and rebaling.
To keep the rebaling equipment running continuously, the Simpsons
use two unrolling machines. While unrolling one bale, they can load
another into the other unroller. Recently, they repackaged 40 big
bales into 600 small ones in four hours.
A 50 horsepower diesel engine powers two hydraulic pumps that run
the setup. One pump turns the PTO on the baler; the other runs the
unrollers and conveyor belts.
Customers can request various sizes of rectangular bales from the
Simpsons. One woman, for example, wants 40-pound straw bales because
she likes to put 40 pounds of straw in each horse stall. When she
used 70 pound bales, she carried leftover straw from one stall to the
next, which was inconvenient.
Right size. “The lady pays $2.50 for each 40-pound
bale, which is the same she used to pay for a 70-pound bale,” Simpson
says. “Since we’re rebaling anyway, it’s easy for us to rebale in
the exact size that will best suit each customer. The smallest bales
we’ve sold weighed about 25 pounds.”
The Simpsons have contracted with a local machine shop to build
rebaling setups, and they’ve already sold a few. A setup with two
unrollers and other options can cost up to $40,000. That price includes
modifying a standard field baler for stationary work, but not the cost
of buying the baler.
Simpson notes that the stationary baler isn’t entirely stationary.
A shock absorber on the front hitch allows the baler to rock back and
fourth a few inches with the momentum of the moving plunger. He
explains that if the hitch had been solidly anchored to keep the baler
from moving, the violent shaking would wear it out rapidly.
Courtesy of The Furrow