PRACTCIAL TEST: Arable farmers wanting to crack on with primary cultivations or establishing a cover crop, want bales cleared quickly and with as few wheelings as possible. Enter the CTF compatible Transtacker 4100 bale chaser which we tested last season.
Bale chasers offer the opportunity to significantly improve the efficiency of field clearance as well as helping to limit traffic and wheelings. But
they do have their limits, not least in controlled traffic systems and on undulating ground where producing stable stacks can be challenging.
With its latest Transtacker 4100, Big Bale South hopes to have tackled these issues. Last harvest we assembled an experienced test
crew to put it through its paces. Despite the trial being limited to just a couple of weeks thanks to the accelerated nature of harvest 2022, our men in the seat got a chance to run some 900 bales through the machine.
Bit of history
It was back in the late ‘90s that Yorkshire engineer and serial inventor John Walton started developing a chaser that would be able to deal with any size bale and would also be able to pick existing stacks up for transport, setting it apart from other machines on the market at the time. In 2001 the Walton Eclipse first broke cover, quickly establishing itself with contractors looking for a versatile field clearance tool.
The market for big bale straw was rapidly growing, fuelled by demand from biomass burning power stations and contractors had their work cut out clearing fields in good time. The Eclipse’s pièce de résistance was its ability to cross alternate layers of bales to tie them in and make for a more stable stack. It also scored highly with operators looking to rapidly gather bales into weatherproof stacks in the field and then return at a later date to haul them away. At the time this is what set it apart from the likes of Heath’s and Arcusin’s equivalents. Although the market for bale chasers is a fairly limited one, Mr Walton’s machine quickly gained popularity and production was outsourced to meet demand. Then in 2009 a deal was struck with Hampshire-based Big Bale South to take on the chaser business. Rebranded as the Transtacker, manufacturing was brought in-house three years later following closure of the engineering business that was building the chasers.
A year later Big Bale was approached by the National Centre for Precision Farming at Harper Adams with a proposition to collaborate on a project to develop a bale chaser suitable for controlled traffic farming (CTF). The partnership secured a £550,000 grant through the government’s Innovate UK scheme and work got underway to redesign the Transtacker.