Test: Lely RP 160 Baler

By: Jaiden Drought, Photography by: Jaiden Drought


Farm Trader tests the compact and nimble Lely RP 160 Baler that is available in three spec options: Classic, Master, and Xtra

The weather doesn’t lend itself much to harvesting at the moment. In fact, I’m researching the tax advantages of switching the jet boat over to a farm vehicle, as I think it could be more effective than any other piece of machinery currently in use on many parts of the farm.

However, this is also the time when all the hard work put in during spring and summer to create quality silage and hay bales can go either way.

Hay -baler

You either love the bales – they have held their shape, which makes unwrapping and feeding them out a breeze – or there is the other side of the equation where they look like spongy golf balls and all the cursing in the book rears its ugly head, with feedout time proving a war of attrition.

I tested the Lely RP 160 baler in late summer (and by summer, I mean no visible ponding on the paddock surface) on some short grass, jacked up on urea and freshly mown – all the things that keep a belt baler on its toes. So I threw in a full set of knives and an honest 1.35m bale size to really sort the men from the boys.

Lelybaler

Now the baler handled this surprisingly well, but I wanted to delay writing the article until after I had fed the bales from this machine to determine what the quality and handling ability was like at the other end, and to give an all-round perspective.

Pickup and rotor

Agressiverotor

Classic, Master, and Xtra are the three spec options available on these machines. This allows buyers to choose the level of sophistication they need.

Pickup, knives, and in-cab controller are the main three points of difference between the base spec Classic and top-spec Xtra.

Camless -pickup

The new Hybrid 2 camless pickup is the technical name. Our test machine was equipped with the 2.25m, although a 2.4m is available.

Key differences over the older models include thicker and longer tines, with a larger coil to increase life in New Zealand’s often-rough baling conditions where the tine angle has also been adjusted.

If it’s getting too close to the ground due to the camless setup, it folds back to protect the pickup without leaving any crop behind.

Because the cam track has been thrown on the scrap heap, this has allowed for an additional tine bar to be added.

Large -windrow -roller

This takes the number to a total of five, with 64mm tine spacing, and also allows the pickup to be situated closer to the rotor, giving better crop flow.

Another great feature is the grunty crop flow roller at the front. This also allows a
more consistent crop flow in heavy crops by pressing them as they enter the pickup
and helping reduce the effect of wind in light fluffy crops.

Knives and dropfloor

Daily -maintence

Xtracut and Hydroflexcontrol are two brilliant features on the Lely RP 160 baler. I ran 17 knives through the bales (the maximum number) and the chop quality at feeding out is both exceptional and consistent.

Knives are hydraulically controlled from the cab in conjunction with the E-Link Pro controller.

The Xtracut spec’d balers have two sets of knife banks, so on our spec machine (17 knife model), you can chose eight (back set), nine (front set), or 17 (both sets). All are hydraulically protected from damage with rocks.

Hydroflexcontrol may be a bit of a mouthful to say, but what it does is simple and probably one of the standout features of this machine. Many operators who have had it in their previous or existing Lely balers will tell you it’s something they couldn’t do without.

The Hydroflexcontrol is the anti-blockage system. The ‘flex’ essentially is rubber and spring mountings, which allow the drop floor to move under peak loads.

If the lump is too large or a foreign object or a wet lump trips the slip clutch, then the ‘hydro’ comes into play. This is the drop floor, which allows the blockage to pass.

All this is done from the cab on the controller/hydraulic lever. The knives are disengaged and re-engaged once the floor is back in the working position.

In-cab monitor

In -cab -e -link -monitor

As these types of balers become increasingly high capacity and high tech, the trend is to keep up with the technology level in the tractors towing them. E-Link Pro is an easy functional monitor, which can only really be surpassed by ISOBUS.

The E-Link Pro has a nice bright display, which is clear and offers plenty of space for useful information about the baler.

This not only includes bale tallies but also total time and bales per hour for each customer, so the driver and owner can extract the efficiency of the output.

One thing some operators might find strange is the lack of a status bar for left and right filling of the bale chamber. However, this is available on the largest balers in the range, and filling the chamber based on the movement of the belts is something most drivers of this type of high-capacity machine are accustomed to.

It seems odd that it hasn’t been included in spite of space being available on the main operating screen.

Chamber and netting

Bale -core -rollars

There are many different theories about single, double, triple, or quadruple belt balers. I’m not getting into the argument of which one is best (although I personally like the four-belt design to drive).

In short grass, the Lely doesn’t seem to be as erratic as others. Although there are more gaps for grass to get in, it also means rubbish material and build up chucked out by the Lely’s aggressive cleaning rollers result in trouble-free baling.

Cleaning -rollars

The four endless belts are a combination of synthetic material and rubber layers. This allows the perfect balance between grip, strength, and bale pressure.

Speaking of bale density, as you can tell from the photos, these are well-formed, tight bales. Given the crop conditions, this is impressive but many Lely operators will be familiar with this.

This is partly achieved by the belt tension but starts right from when a new bale is formed. Two rollers above the feed system allow the new bale to be quickly formed with the large external CPS (Constant Pressure System) exerting pressure on the crop right from the core of the bale.

Easyloadin

The well-proven net-wrapping system runs a core lock to stop the net roll spinning. There is a brake disc system and a powered feed system where the net feeds between a steel and rubber roller.

This new series of balers also has the ELS (easy loading system), where the new net roll is simply tipped backwards with the storage cradle.

It does make changing the net in the field easier, but you must still lug the roll up in the first place To be fair, it does stop you from getting covered in dust, which is a bonus.

Verdict

Verdict

There are probably three real options when looking for a high-capacity variable chamber baler – this one and two other slightly different shades of green.

If you look at some of the bale count totals around the country on Welger/Lely machines. I’m sure you will find a token ‘just run in at 80,000 bales’.

Given the technology and heritage of these machines, that statement may well be ambitious but probably isn’t rubbish.

Pluses

  • E-Link Pro monitor is bright, easy to read, and practical to operate
  • Low chain oil container makes filling easy
  • Clustered grease points again make daily maintenance a breeze
  • Aggressive drive/cleaning rollers and the four belt system handled the short green grass well
  • Compact nimble machine
  • Camless pickup hugged the ground and cleaned up the swath very well
  • Three knife options: 8, 9, or all 17
  • Hydroflex drop floor system cleverly allows the crop to smoothly flow through to the chamber
  • Easy net roll change thanks to the clever front tipping cradle

Minuses

  • The absence of bale shape indicators. However, these are available as an option.

Check out the Lely RP 160 Baler in action.

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