Reviews

Cover story: Krone Comprima CF 155 XC Plus

Krone is King when it comes to bale efficiency and smooth baling. Farm Trader checks out the Krone Comprima CF 155 XC Plus.

Making the decision to buy a new baler involves a lot of questions. The first realistically is around how many bales your old baler has done. The cost of ongoing repairs and maintenance may be equal to the repayments on a new machine. And when modern machines are equipped with the latest innovations and technology, those efficiencies go a long way to justifying the cost.

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And that’s a wrap!

It’s certainly worth considering whether the increased productivity of a new machine, like the Krone Comprima CF 155 XC Plus, could significantly increase the productivity of your business. These days, time saved is money saved.

Other things to consider at present include machine availability – gear seems to be taking forever to make it out of Europe to dealers in New Zealand – and obviously, the other factor is price. Quality gear is rarely inexpensive, and recent fuel and steel price hikes certainly aren’t helping, with prices steadily climbing to accommodate these changes.     

With new machinery sparse on the ground these days, when I was presented with the opportunity to grab the Fendt 720 and Krone Comprima CF 155 XC set-up from Piako Tractors in Morrinsville, I didn’t hesitate and set out with this impressive combo to do a few late-season bales.

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Smooth bale transfer from baler to wrapping table

Coming off the back of hot, dry summer months, a recent drop of 50mm of rain had given some parched Waikato pastures a chance to recover, enough for a few bales anyway. So, while the crop wasn’t exactly heavy and didn’t really challenge the new Krone Comprima in terms of throughput, it was still a good chance to see the machine in action and take a closer look at its key features.

Given that I’m not so familiar with the Krone line-up of balers, Todd Hewitt from Piako Tractors came along to talk me through the features, as the Krone/Fendt combo has been his project since they arrived in late 2021. Turns out, not much help was needed, as the basic operation is thankfully easy to come to grips with. However, a quick intro around understanding the various buttons and beeps and knowing which button to press to lock the wrap cutter back in after changing a roll – and we were away. No problems.

It’s a sign of good design when a machine like this just needs a quick explanation and you can actually get to work, without having to wade through pages and pages of operating manual or online instructions.

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Five-row spiral W pickup cleanly picks up rows

Pickup

Important on any grass harvesting equipment, the 2.15-metre-wide Krone Easy Flow pickup did a good job of collecting the rows of grass. Arranged in a W-shaped pattern rather than standard rows, this still works out to be five rows. With a narrow 55mm spacing, the double six-millimetre tines are designed to handle heavy crops just as easily as the lighter crops. Galvanized pickup bands are a sensible option.

Like most, Krone has gone with a cam-less pickup for ground following ability. It also decreases the number of moving parts required to collect the grass to be fed into the rotor cutter, lowering cost of repairs and maintenance.

Cutting system

Feed augers bring the outside of the rows into the large 53cm diameter cutting rotor. Should the feed chamber block, you can drop the blade cassette hydraulically to allow the blockage to pass. If you have hydraulic knife control (our test machine was manual, but hydraulic control can be retrofitted), this will automatically retract the knives.

The blades are all the same for easy changing and spring-loaded to prevent damage should they hit something, moving back into position once the object is passed. There are two knife bank options: 17 or 26. Depending upon which option you go for, you have a cut length of 128mm and 64mm or 84mm and 42mm. On-board storage is convenient with a hatch door for a spare set of knives behind the rolls of wrap.

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Heavy-duty chain and steel tube wrapping table

Bale forming system

The Krone Comprima balers are not your standard run of the mill baler. Most other balers are either fixed chamber or belt balers. Krone, however, has gone with a belt and slat system to deliver the best of both worlds.

The steel slats are connected to the Novo Grip belts on each side (and come with an impressive warranty of three years or 30,000 bales). Heavy-duty components in the driveline, along with auto chain lubrication and greasing, decrease servicing time and maintenance costs. The one niggle with the auto greaser is the location for refilling, being rather awkward when the fill point could easily have been a little further around to make the job easier.

For our machinery test, the grass was later and drier than early spring silage, but on average found the Krone bales to be around an average of 660kg. While not completely comparing apples with apples, this was around 10% heavier than the bales made pre-Christmas with the fixed chamber baler – a testament to the high-density bales achievable with the Krone Comprima. And as any farmer or contractor knows, savings like this add up significantly over a season.

The semi-variable chamber allows you to make bales from 1.25- to 1.5-metre diameter to suit different crops (silage or hay).

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Auto chain oiler on the left, auto greaser hidden bottom right

Wrapping

Wrapping and getting the air out is a key component of achieving the highest quality silage. A key difference with the latest model Comprima is the removal of the hydraulic pump that’s used to run the hydraulic functions of the baler. Instead, the new design opts to make use of load-sensing hydraulics from the tractor. A benefit of this is the extra space created above the PTO drive for the baler, making it easier for replacing the net to bind the bale.

The new Comprima balers are standard net binding and have the option of net and film. Film binding has been tested to produce higher quality silage, and a uniform product (film to bind and wrap) will make recycling to minimise farm waste easier, and it also gives you the option for whichever a farmer prefers. With one roll of net or film on the machine, there’s room for storage of two more with an adjustable bar to lock in place. At the wrapping end of the machine, there’s a change with the sensor mounting point for the wrap, instead using a magnetic system. This allows the other satellite to finish, applying the correct number of layers of wrap to finish off the bale before stopping to fix the broken roll of wrap.

We did get quite a few film breaks on the day, which was a little frustrating, but this certainly was not a baler issue. The button on the rear of the machine to release the knives sure came in handy though and is easily locked back in on the monitor in the cab.

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After-market camera/monitor so you can view wrapping progress

Under the large side panels, there’s room for 12 rolls of wrap (six on each side) with a spring-loaded pin system to lock them in place until needed. Replacing the wrap was easy once you did things in the correct sequence, locking the spring-loaded rollers in place so you don’t run out of hands to do the job.

Satellites orbit at 36rpm so in the light crop, the process was completed in plenty of time before the next bale was formed. A simple gear system is used to change between 50 and 70% pre-stretch, easily done without needing a full tool kit. Warp layers of 4/6/8/10 are easily selected from the operator terminal. The ability to be able to carry the first bale and drop in pairs is handy for hay jobs.

Although the paddocks we were working in on test day weren’t all flat, it wasn’t hilly enough to test out the hill transfer system for bales. This slows down the transfer cradling the bale to prevent it from escaping. Basic transfer from baler to wrapper worked really well, and we had no issues. We were set up in all auto, aside from bale drop to prevent bales being dropped in the wrong place.

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ISOBUS running through the Fendt monitor

The wrapping table is a chain and bar system, which is almost built like a bale feeder. Another option available is bale weighing, which may be a feature some contractors would require.

Colour-coding of the moving rollers (yellow) should prevent falls caused by standing on moving parts when on the wrapper to look at knives for example. A rubber mat at the rear of the wrapping table is standard to prevent damage to the film on the bale. The optional end tipper fitted to the test machine worked well. When not required, it can be folded up against the wrapping table, and it does come apart for storage alongside the wrapping table. Possibly assembly before each job would be a little bit of a niggle, however, I’m sure you would get used to it.

Operation

On a twin axle set-up, with large 500/60R 22.5 tyres (optioned on the test machine), the Krone Comprima towed nicely along the road – no bouncing, which can be an issue with single axle balers. It also has a heavier axle set-up to handle the weight of the baler and bales; you could feel the weight pushing a bit on the hill. Air brakes are standard on UK spec machines, so I’m sure you could have this over New Zealand spec hydraulic brake version if ordered.

Minimal horsepower is required to operate, however, the 720 Fendt seemed like a good-sized machine for the job. One single acting hydraulic remote and load-sensing valves are required for the other baler/wrapper functions.

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In-cab are a number of monitor options. With the Fendt Gen6, we had two screens so we could use one for tractor function and the other for the baler connected through the tractor’s ISOBUS connection. Krone offers eight- and 12-inch ISOBUS monitors; both are touchscreens with camera connections. Saving a few dollars, there’s a smaller 5.7-inch touchscreen with 12 function keys. The test machine had an aftermarket camera kit fitted to let you see what was going on with the wrapping/bale transfer processes.

Summary

Krone balers are a common sight around the Matamata area where I live. I’d estimate that a significant proportion of the larger contractors run more than one Krone Comprima – which is the best testimony of all really. The quality build and features of this well-established German manufactured brand certainly justifies the contractor’s faith in these machines to get the job done day after day. This may also be partly attributed to the back-up and support of the local dealer for the Krone brand (imported by Tulloch Farm Machines) – in this case, Piako Tractors in Morrinsville. Given that prices are definitely only going one way anytime soon, if you were thinking a new baler might be on the cards for next season, it may be worth having a chat to your local dealer sooner rather than later.

Krone Comprima CF 155 XC Plus Specifications

Chamber slat system, semi-variable
Bale Size

1.25–1.50 x 1.20m

XCut Rotor cutter

 
Cut length (approx.) 17 blades 64mm
Cut length (approx.) 26 blades 42mm (optional) 

Dimensions

Length 7.17m
Width 2.97m
Height 3.40m

Required kW/hp (approx. min)

74kw/100hp  
Tractor Attachment 40mm ring (standard) K80 ball (option)

Pickup

Number of rows
of tines

5 Rows
Pickup width 2.15m
Wrapping System Net (standard) net/film (option)
Axles Tandem/braked (standard
Tyres 500/60R 22.5 (test machine) 500/55 R20 (standard)
Monitor Options DS500/CCI800/CCI1200 or tractor’s ISOBUS
No of spools Required Load-sensing and 1 single acting
Options ISOBUS cable, camera system/extra camera, hydraulic stand, bale turner, hydraulic knife bank control/extra knives, weigh system, LED work lights

Pros

  • Good bale density
  • Auto greaser standard
  • Tandem axle, on 500/60R 22.5 tyres, easy towing, and minimal ground compaction
  • 3 x screen options, or tractor ISOBUS
  • LED lighting under panels for nightwork

Cons

  • DIY bale kicker
  • Bale shape had more rounded edges, not like a tin can, but this could have been a baler operator/row issue

Find new and used farm machinery for sale in NZ 

Photography: Mark Fouhy

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