“I have always loved baling, especiall with this machine,” confesses the Mr Bertrand. It produces up to 6,000 bales every year for his livestock and for fodder sales. The biggest river in France by the size of its catchment area, the Saône crosses five regional departments before flowing into the Rhône, in Lyon. In Haute-Saône, it offers farmers floodplains of various flora conducive to the production of quality hay. “Here we find up to 30% legumes and grasses, like ryegrass, fescue and cocksfoot,” explains Samuel Bertrand.
The market for round bales
For the Earl de Fontaine-Froz Charolais herd, 3,000 round bales cover the annual consumption demands of hay and straw. The same volume, Mr. Bertrand sells to a trader who supplies regional clientele as far as Switzerland (Geneva is just a three-hour drive from here).
I have always loved baling, especiall with this machine.
“There is still a demand for round bales,” he explains, “if only to unroll them and handle them more easily on the smaller farms for calves and heifers, for example.” A semi-trailer truck can deliver up to 70 round bales to their destination provided that they are perfectly shaped and at the agreed weight. This is just the job for the John Deere V451R variable chamber baler.
Workflow without delay
“This machine is robust enough to produce 10,000 bales per year, while weighing just over four tones,” says Philippe Ostermann, marketing manager at the Arc-les Gray plant, where all of the brand’s European presses are designed and manufactured. Mr Bertrand generally pulls his V451R with a John Deere 6155M, or even with a 6195M, if the terrain demands it.
“With a pick-up of 2.2m, we can aim for a continuous forward speed of close to 15 km/hr,” he explains. It was during a test drive that Mr Bertrand first knew that the V451R baler was right for him: “I purposely took on a windrow with a spin of the wheel; the machine didn’t jam – exactly what I was looking for,” he recalls.
80ha of floodplains on the banks of the Saône River provide Mr Bertrand with high quality hay. in the summer this is where he grazes his 250 Charolais cattle.
Road clearance objective: with an average diameter of 1.3m, two bales can be placed sidew by side on the trucks. To the left of Samuel Bertrand is Philippe Ostermann, who arrived from the the close by John Deere factory at Arc-les-Gray.
“High-end” binding: For a long time, Samuel Bertrand has been using only Edge To Edge or CoverEdge nets. The farmer adds that his customers even appreciate the green colour of this very effective net.
The full-width mobile bottom plate, controlled from the cabin, allows work to be resumed without delay in the event of a jam. “This comes in handy, sometimes several times in one day,” he admits. Coupled with net wrapping, which takes no more than 10 seconds, the FRS quick release system, recognisable by its articulated black curtain, releases the bale in just five seconds. This is how he maintains the pace of 100 bales per hour at Earl Fontaine-Froz.
Variable Chamber Balers
Quick and controlled maintenance
“I spend more time blowing out this baler with a compressor than I do greasing it,” smiles Mr. Bertrand, adding that his machine, which has processed a total of 25,000 bales, still has its original bearings. Mr Ostermann points out that a quick measuring ruler for checking drive chain wear is available from John Deere dealers. As for the tyres, the 500/55-20 size mounts, which are not the widest in the V451R catalogue, are proven to be well suited to the ground conditions encountered on the meadows on the banks of the Sâone.
Investing in high-end tools
“Before settling down, I had the chance to do a one-year internship on an arable farm in Alberta, Canada,” recalls Mr Bertrand. He noticed that the farm manager preferred buying harvesting and sowing equipment that could cover a larger area per hour, while the farm’s tractors remained more classic.
“The V451R baler is the best equipped and the most expensive in the John Deere catalogue in the Franche-Comté, but I compensate for this investment by preferring John Deere M series tractors, which are already comfortable, rather than the R series.”
Arc-les-Gray: A recently modernised factory
A £12-m (€15-m)investment program has just been completed here, and a new one is on the way. John Deere is aiming for a 20% increase in productivity for its factory while reducing the area by 40%. Round balers, which are exported mainly to Europe but also to Australia, South Korea and Japan, represent two-thirds of the business.
The rest is accounted for by the brand’s front loaders and lifts for German tractor factories. In Arc-les-Gray, John Deere employs nearly 500 people, plus dozens of temporary workers during peak production. Its pomising future has led the company to recruit massively, which is excellent news for Franche-Comté.