Test: Lely RPC 245 Tornado

Lely makes two Tornado baler wrappers the 245 Fixed Tornado and 445 Variable Tornado. After seeing both in action at a demonstration held at Mystery Creek recently, where these machines baled and wrapped about 730 silage bales in one day, I was keen to find out more.

The test

The two machines demonstrated were owned by Walters Contracting. Robert Walters himself had a lot to do with the design of the prototype 445 Tornado. He worked closely with the Lely team including Harry Smith, Lely NZ’s service manager and the mechanical/project link in Hamilton, Wim Reijerssen van Buuren, the R&D general manager for Forage Technology NV in the Netherlands, and Malte Schlichting, the product development manager.

The result is a baler wrapper that operates using three computers — and you thought your laptop and iPhone were flash technology. Given all this high-tech stuff, I thought Robert and his team would be a good place to start, to find out more about these exceptional machines.

I caught up with one of Robert’s drivers, Kevin, who was working in the Miahiihi hills catching up on baleage and silage on one of Robert’s dairy properties, using the 245 fixed chamber Tornado. He was pulling the Tornado using a 160hp Case Puma, with CVX transmission and duals, which handled the baler unit well.

The pickup

Lely is using a camless pickup on its balers. At 2.25 metres wide they allow easier baling through corners where the rake can leave rows a little bit heavier. A fixed five-tine bar with 5.6mm thick tines spaced at 64mm apart does a good job of collecting the rowed-up crop. Standard on Tornado balers are swivel-mounted wheels, with plenty of adjustment for really rough paddocks. The camless pickups on the Tornado are much the same as the pickups Lely is using on its loader wagons. Fewer moving parts mean less repair and maintenance. The only downside I’m aware of is that very heavy stalky grass crops can jam the pickup.

Chopping unit

The Lely fixed chamber 245 forms the back bone of the 245 Tornado. The large feed augers handle heavy, wet, green crops well, feeding into the new extra-large cutting rotor and the Xtracut 25-knife bank system allowing you to have zero, 12, 13 or 25 knives in. With all the knives in it gives a chop length of 45mm and with only half the knives in it chops to 90mm. Chopping the grass helps the baler to make dense bales that are air tight reducing the risk of mould and wastage. Knives can be selected from in the cab.

Drop floor

Given the best quality baleage is made when the grass is still grass-like and not dried out, baleage crops are significantly heavier and harder on the baler. Blockages are almost inevitable, and this is where the Lely Hydroflex floor comes in. The rubber blocks ensure the floor can flex downwards underneath the rotor so a stone or crop lump can pass through. Should a blockage occur, the floor can pivot downwards so the problem can be easily sorted. The second step for Robert and his team is to remove the knives, as this is often enough to get the blockage through and moving again. Last option — drop the feed table floor, although this does leave bales with stray bits on the edges and not as tidy. Lely uses a power split transmission, providing equal power to the bale chamber and the rotor.

In cab

Controls in-cab are limited to operating your pickup, raising and lowering hydraulics and, on the hills we were baling, the rear door can be set to manual for hilly conditions and automatic for flat ground. It has a mechanical locking mechanism, not relying on high constant hydraulic pressure, to keep it shut. All the rest of the baler systems are run from the Welger colour touch screen monitor. This shows where each different function is at in the process, and allows you to set adjust all the functions of the machine. On the bottom right of the screen you have a small view of the wrapping process that can be expanded out to the whole screen view, thanks to two cameras mounted on the rear. The camera does work in the dark but works even better when the balers two rear work lamps are on.


Having the wrapping table at the right level particularly on hills is important to allow correct bale ejection, wrapping and unloading. You can override things in the cab, but this can just make things worse. This machine is relatively quiet running on rubber wheels.

Operating the wrapper on hills does require some skill, being only 2.8m wide, and although it’s manoeuvrable on big single axle tyres, it still weighs in at 5950kg, even without 14 tubes of wrap, two rolls of netting and two bales of silage, so care is required.
245 Fixed vs 445 Variable Tornado

Features of the two models of Tornado are fairly similar, the advantage of the fixed chamber lies in being able to cope with lumpy rows a little better, and still produce a nice even bale, making it slightly easier to operate. Robert runs his Lely Tornados at maximum density, which produce consistent, heavy silage bales in the 800-1000kg weight range. Producing a 12-bale equivalent bale rather than 10 is saving clients money in wrapping, plus time or freight shifting extra bales out of the paddock. The only thing you have to watch out for with such big bales is that they may be too big for little tractor to lift onto the bale feeder. The advantage with the variable chamber is in light crops (hay or straw) as you’re able to adjust your bale size out to 15 bale equivalents, saving time and money again. Both baler/wrapper combinations have the ability to carry and drop two bales together, another time-saving feature when you’re shifting them.

Lely -RPC-245-Tornado -2


The Lely Tornado 245 fixed chamber baler would have to be one of the best new farm machines I have tested over the past 12 months. It is packed with great features like the Hydroflex floor, Xtracut chopping system and all the technology that goes into the wrapping process built into the same machine. Robert says going from 10 bales in 10 hours using the original prototype, to 60-odd in one hour with only one man and one tractor is a huge saving for contractors like himself. Consistently heavy, high quality silage bales mean savings in wrap and freight for the farmer so they’re working smarter for everyone. Robert and his team have received excellent support and service from Lely throughout the four to five years they have been involved with the Tornado project.


  • Consistent bales
  • Dense and heavy bales reducing mould
  • Less bales for the same amount of grass mean wrap and cartage savings
  • Tractor and labour efficiencies — only one tractor and one operator required
  • Well-placed rear cameras make the job easier to control
  • Smart use of accumulators and systems to keep tractor power requirements/hydraulic flow rates down


  • A reasonably high level of skill to operate one machine that does two jobs
  • Under certain conditions (very heavy, long, stalky crops) the camless pickup may jam

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Photography: Mark Fouhy

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