THE CURRENT focus on diversification and risk management within cropping systems has seen farmers looking at hay as a rotational option in increasing numbers.
The ability to generate an income in spite of a failed spring, the chance to get a non-chemical control of problem weeds and a spreading of the timing of peak workloads have all seen hay rise in popularity in recent years.
Jade Hawker, sales manager at the Claas Harvest Centre Lake Bolac in Victoria’s Western District, said interest had been strong in the new Claas Quadrant series of square balers.
“People are interested in making hay and if you are looking at selling the hay, rather than storing it for use on-farm, then square bales are the most efficient ones to transport,” he said at the recent Wimmera Machinery Field Days.
A key focus for farmers with potential baler purchases has been the ability to bale hay quickly to avoid downgrading.
A wide pick-up front has meant the Quadrant series can turn off an impressive number of bales per hour.
Mr Hawker said the wider pick-ups also meant the balers were easier to use, along with limiting losses.
“The wide intake helps eliminate crop losses with wide or irregular windrows,” he said.
Claas has made chopping quality a focus with the Quadrant series, with the 5300 series machine offering a range of different cutting styles according to the needs of the grower and the crop type.
In fine cut mode, suitable for baling straw, the machine can achieve a whopping 36,000 chops per minute through its 51 knives.
Claas boasts that straw going through the fine chop process will be no longer than 22mm, making for better digestability.
On more delicate hay crops, such as forage species, the machine can operate in rotary feed mode, which feeds the hay into the baler without chopping.
Mr Hawker said the feed intake was not diminished even when not in chopping mode.
“The bales in roto feed mode are still evenly proportioned and well compacted.”