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 ones.”
 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 rectangular bales.”
 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

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Simpson Farms
Cochran, Georgia