Article from Andrea Mayes, The Weekly Times – September 2014.

Baler and wrapper specialists McHale have produced its first variable-chamber high-output baler wrapper combo, the fully automatic Fusion Vario.

In 2002 the Irish company introduced to Australia its Fusion 1, which made up 90 per cent of McHale sales, and then the Fusion 2. But ­neither could vary the bale size.

The Fusion Vario addresses this need and is a smooth integration of two McHale machines: the Fusion frame and wrapper, and the V660 variable chamber baler.

Darren Crawford farms 364ha at Invergordon, 30km from Shepparton. He took delivery of one of the first Fusion Varios to arrive in Australia from Bertoli Farm Machinery in time for this year’s silage season.

Darren, a fifth-generation farmer, milks 500 Holstein cows and grows almost all his own hay and silage. He had used contractors but this year will bale and wrap between 2000 and 2500 rolls of hay and silage with his own machine.

Darren said he watched a video demonstration of the Fusion Vario before he ordered it.

He also knew people who used McHale Fusion machines and were very happy with the performance and reliability.

Darren said that the first day they had the Vario working, quite a few utes slowed while going past the farm and neighbours had rung and asked to see it operating.

“I knew McHale had a very good reputation for their baling and wrapping machines,” he said. “Some other brands look like they’ve just got a wrapper bolted onto the back but McHale has engineered a ­well-integrated machine designed specifically for the job.”

Darren Crawford, left, and Bertoli Farm Machinery’s Paul Watt with the McHale Fusion 3 variable-chamber baler wrapper.

Darren Crawford, left, and Bertoli Farm Machinery’s Paul Watt with the McHale Fusion Vario variable-chamber baler wrapper.

The Fusion Vario can make bales of hay and straw from 0.6m up to 1.68m and can also produce bales of silage from 1.1m to 1.45m.

Darren uses the Vario with a 120hp McCormick tractor.

The Fusion Vario is 6.3m long and 2.94m wide. McHale has kept the compact size by modifying the rear door, tilted in the frame to make room for the patented bale transfer system.

The 2.1m pick-up has five tine bars with tines spaced at 70mm to provide maximum crop intake. A crop roller extending over the tines, and cross augers at the side of the pick-up allow uniform feed to a spiral-toothed rotor. Drop floor clearing of blockages is achieved hydraulically from the cabin.

Pneumatic wheels, which ensure good ground following capabilities, fold back for transport.

Bales are formed by three wide high-strength endless belts driven off two drive rollers and a constant ­pressure system maintains the ­density from the core outwards. The net wrapping system is designed for easy loading and adjusting, with minimal slipping due to the rubber feed roller’s 180 degrees of net contact. When the size of the bale is changed, the amount of net applied is automatically adjusted.

Automated bale transfer begins as soon as the bale has finished netting, with the transfer table tipping forward to collect the bale as the door opens. The transfer cradle then tips the bale securely onto the wrapper.

The twin satellite vertical wrapping ring can apply six layers of film in about 30 seconds. Break sensors alert the driver when the film runs out and wrapping continues at a slower speed until the second satellite runs out, so the driver can change both rolls at once.

The finished bale can be tipped automatically or manually when the next bale is ready to be wrapped. A rear roller with end tipper gently ­lowers the bale onto the ground.

The in-cab control touch screen is 17.8cm. A camera set at the rear of the machine can be manually accessed at the touch of a button or set to automatically display on the screen.

Darren said the best thing about his new Fusion Vario was that it did everything for him.

“I don’t have to think about anything,” he said. “It’s all done automatically and the touch screen and in-built camera give me all the information I need.”

“I’ll be able to make more silage and better quality silage than I was getting with the contractors.”

“I can drop one or two paddocks out of rotation and get them baled, and do the baling at the best time, taking advantage of weather breaks and fitting it in between irrigation ­schedules.”