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Introducing the Square Baler Classification System


To support hay producers to be better able to choose the right baler for their operation needs, AGCO and Hesston by Massey Ferguson are introducing a standardized classification system for small and large square balers during the 2017 World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif.  The square baler classification system places balers in Class 1 through Class 8 and clearly defines the capabilities of balers and their most appropriate uses.

You can learn more about this new Square Baler Classification System here.

“Hesston alone offers four models of large square balers ranging from 3’x3’ to 4’x4’ and six small square balers to produce four sizes from 14” x 18” to 16” x 22”,” explains Shaun Allred, marketing manager for hay and forage at Hesston. “Dairy, beef and equine customers, as well as commercial hay and biomass harvesting operations that harvest, store and ship large quantities of material all have different needs in a baler.”

“These classes clearly define the capabilities of the various models from Hesston by Massey Ferguson and Challenger®. The baler classification system will give customers a better understanding of the entire lineup of balers so they can make better purchase decisions,” Shaun Allred continues. “This system is similar to the classification system for combines that uses horsepower ranges to rank the size and productivity of combine harvesters.”

The square baler classification system uses rated plunger load to define each of the eight baler classes. Plunger load was chosen because is the most measurable factor impacting the density of the finished bale.

“Bale density is a key consideration when customers purchase a square baler, because it affects the amount of material in the finished bale; bale weight; stacking, storage and transportation, as well as the productivity and efficiency of the baling process,” Allred points out. “Producers will be able to use this system to choose the baler that fits the crops they harvest, their end-use needs and the baler that optimizes their hay harvesting productivity and efficiency for the best return on investment.”

Rated plunger load is determined by measuring the Kilonewtons (kN) of force on the face of the plunger. One Kilonewton equals 224.8 pounds of force. Load sensors on the plunger arms measure compression of the plunger arms to provide the plunger load rating. Current AGCO customers are familiar with this number because it is displayed on the in-cab monitor as the Load Setting.

Using experience gained from more than 70 years as an industry-leading manufacturer of equipment for producing and harvesting quality forage, the hay experts at Hesston developed clear descriptions of the most appropriate uses for balers within each class. See the below table to learn more about the different classes and the operations each one is ideal for.


Class Ideal For: Hesston
Challenger Models Plunger Force (kN) Bale Size Bale Weight* (lbs)
1 Equine Operations
25-1000 acres/year; Individual use or commercial production; Small bale size (50-85 lbs.): easy to handle, transport and feed; Handle individually or with accumulator
15 to 44 kNs 14″x18″ 50-85 lbs.
2 Equine & Dairy Operations
100-500+ acres/year; Individual or commercial production: equine, small beef or dairy; Small bale size (70-110 lbs.): easy to handle, transport and feed; Handle individually or with accumulator
MF1842 45 to 74 kNs 16″x18″ 70-110 lbs.
3 Equine, Dairy & Export Operations
250-1000+ acres/year; Individual or commercial: equine, beef, dairy & export; Largest, small square bales: (90-140 lbs.) May be hand fed or double pressed for export; Handle with accumulator and forks
MF1844 75 to 199 kNs 15″x22″ 90-140 lbs.
4 Dairy Operations
250-1,000+ acres/year; Individual dairy & beef operations with limited custom baling
MF2250 CH2250 200 to 324 kNs 3’x3′ 700-900 lbs.
5 Dairy & Commercial Operations
250-3,000+ acres/year; Large dairies, commercial hay producers, custom balers & fleet use
325 to 449 kNs 3’x4′
1,000-2,000 lbs.
6 Commercial & Biomass Operations
500-3,000+ acres/year; Commercial hay production and crop residue baling
MF2270XD CH2270XD 450 to 574 kNs 3’x4′
1,400-2,000 lbs.
7 Commercial & Biomass Operations
1,000-5,000+ acres/year; Large-scale custom hay and crop residue baling
575 to 749 kNs 3’x4′ 1,400-2,000 lbs.
8 Biomass Operations
1,000-5,000+ acres/year; Large-scale crop residue and biomass baling
750 + kNs 3’x4′ 1,400-2,000 lbs.


So… What Do We Do with ALL that Material?


We’ve talked about collecting 90,000 tons of corn stover and working with Pellet Technology USA. And we’ve also discussed the impact that it can have on a local market’s economy.

But what do you do once you’ve collected that 90,000 tons of stover? Actually, a lot of things.

Our Biomass Solutions team started working with Pellet Technology two years ago. Our aim was to help them, and local farmers, collect and bale the ag residue from their fields.

We are continually working with Pellet Tech to streamline the process and hope to double our take of corn stover with them to over 200,000 tons in the near future.

But why is this stover collection story-worthy?

There are myriad reasons. First and foremost is the improved future yield from the fields. Another, is Pellet Technology USA’s revolutionary creation of pelletized feed for cattle and other animals. But it doesn’t end there. Stover can be converted into energy, medical devices, bio-degradable plastics and many more innovations still to come.

The most important part, however, is that it can be healthy for the field in general – improving soil quality and yields for future harvests. Too much stover can be just as detrimental to soil health and future growth as too little.

Corn fields, especially where we’ve been operating in Nebraska, are in corn-on-corn production. That means the fields are used to grow corn every year. So, each year when the corn is harvested there are tons of ag residue left on the fields. In the past, that residue was between two to three tons per acre. Now with the corn grown closer together and more hearty, the ag residue amount has risen to between seven and eight tons per acre.

That’s quite a big jump in residue.

With that additional residue, the land becomes covered much more densely. In turn, it’s more residue that needs to decompose over the winter. Or, as has been done in the past, it’s tilled back into the ground (which takes labor, equipment, time and fuel). But we’re finding that even tilling can cause more of a problem, as the increased residue is unable to decompose fast enough for the next harvest. In turn that means that more equipment, time and fuel is needed to add nitrogen to the fields. Early application of nitrogen is important, because microbes that break down the stover need nitrogen for that process.

What we’ve learned by gathering the residue – into high-density square bales, of course – is that it has several important benefits for fields and future crop yields.

First, the residue doesn’t need to be tilled back into the ground – saving time and fuel. The field also doesn’t need an early application of nitrogen – again saving time, fuel and the cost of nitrogen. Third, with the amount of residue reduced, the fields are warming up faster in the spring, allowing for the corn to get off to a quick start.

So, it’s a win for Pellet Technology, which has a vested interest in the residue in these fields. But it’s also a win for the farmer. And, there is reduced environmental impact, because there is less fertilizing and a decrease in fossil fuels being burned operating the equipment. In the end, less equipment usage means less wear-and-tear on the equipment.

But, back to what happens to the collected and baled stover.

For Pellet Technology, the tons of stover are converted into pellets by a proprietary process. The pellets are then used as feed or as pellets for energy storage and conversion.

On the feed side, Pellet Technology has created pellets that feed cattle. The use of pellets as feed has been tested during the lives of cattle through a partnership with the University of Nebraska.

So, what’s the upside? Why does this matter?

For example, during the extended drought on the West Coast, ranchers and farmers were having a difficult time procuring necessary feed. How can a rancher feed his herd when the cattle can’t graze, because the grass hasn’t been able to grow due to the lack of water? Now they can use Pellet Technology’s patented PowerFeedPellets™ to feed their herd and provide the nutritional diet necessary to keep them healthy.


Another use of corn stover is in energy and ethanol. Today, 97 percent of the country’s motor fuel mix contains about 10 percent ethanol.1 Ethanol provides a clean octane boost to fuels. This benefits refiners, who then no longer need to add toxic chemicals like MTBE to gasoline. And more important, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, on average, fuel with ethanol reduces CO2 emissions by 34 percent.2

And it’s renewable.

One of the early adopters of high-ethanol fuels is NASCAR. Such fuels burn cleaner, provide more power and higher octane levels, and they emit fewer greenhouse gases. I’ll save the rest of that story for another time.

The energy from the stover also can be used to generate electricity or heat.

According to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, energy crops and crop residues could provide 14 percent of U.S. electricity use – which could essentially light up the entire West Coast! Or, it could provide 13 percent of the national’s motor fuel.

So, there are a lot of uses for this “trash.” It’s potentially a whole new way to feed animals and produce energy. But, what’s even more exciting is that no one really knows what innovations are still on the horizon from collecting and processing corn stover.

Only time will tell.


Get the Free Hesston Guide to Quality Hay

Quality Hay

As so many in the business know, hay is no longer a commodity. The ability to better measure its nutritional value has caused a sea change of sorts in how it’s raised and marketed. That, coupled with an increased need for efficiency in production, has hay producers looking for ever-better methods and equipment to help complete the job. For them we’ve published the Hesston Guide to Quality Hay.

From planting to cutting, baling, raking, storing and much more, we’ve included in this, the first edition of Guide, expert tips from those in the know. Growers, academics, Extension agents, as well as AGCO dealership personnel and product specialists, share their best practices in the articles included herein.

Here are some highlights from the guide:

  • Hay Equipment Maintenance Checklist
  • Baler Safety
  • Caring for Hay Fields
  • Reducing Compaction in Alfalfa Fields
  • Tackling Toxic Weeds
  • Hay Conditioning Tips
  • 4 Best Tips for Storing Hay

The Hesston Guide to Quality Hay is available as a full-color, 33-page PDF or as an eBook for iPad. For a free and instant download, anyone can sign up at Once you enter your information, you can download the version you prefer or that is best for your device.

It’s often been said that “nobody knows hay like Hesston,®” and through The Hesston Guide to  Quality Hay, it’s our wish to share that knowledge with you, whether you’re a large commercial grower, a landowner with a few acres or fall somewhere in between. At Hesston, our mission is to provide the help hay producers need, because, we sincerely believe, we’re in this together.

The Sunflower 6830 Series: A New Era in Tillage

With wet conditions impacting much of the corn and soybean-producing areas of Minnesota and Iowa, it has been tough to perform effective tillage. However, last week, the clouds parted for a few days and gave way to fair tillage conditions before the rains returned. During this time, I took the New Sunflower 6830 High-Speed Rotary Finisher for a trip across 230-bushel corn planted in the 36,000 to 39,000 plant population. I was very impressed with the tool’s performance in both sizing and mixing residue.


The corn was harvested using a chopping corn head. Highest-yielding corn was in the range of 240 bushels with an average yield of 203. Row spacing was planted on 30-inch rows. Very soft field conditions were present during harvest leaving ruts 4 to 6 inches deep where the harvester and grain cart was run. Operating speed of the tool was at 11.5 mph. The depth of the 6830 was set and checked at 4 inches. The width of this unit was 29 feet. 11.5 mph x 29 feet = 333.5/8.25 = 40.43 acres per hour. The Sunflower 6830 was pulled with a Challenger 855E tractor, which burned 17 gallons per hour during this operation.


I took a 5-foot by 6-foot area and painted it with marker paint to give a visual of the chopping, sizing and mixing the residue mat left on the soil surface.


In the above picture, you can see the extraordinary job the Sunflower 6830 did in chopping, sizing and mixing the residue mat. In some areas of the country, this single pass will provide a sufficient job in allowing the residue to be broken down prior to the next planting season.  Although difficult to see, this picture was taken directly in the wheel track seen in the first picture of the painted residue.  Not only were the residue and soil mixed, but also completely leveled a 4-inch rut left by the combine.

2016-10-13-12-38-13-1 2016-10-13-12-46-07

These pictures show the tool’s ability to manage the root mass that is left and needs to be managed before further tillage or planting the next crop. Not only are we managing the surface residue, but also the below-surface residue. The sooner we can start the incorporation of this residue with the soil and its many helpful microorganisms, the faster that residue can start the decomposition process.

I’m lucky enough to run several of these Sunflower tools. Sunflower 6830 High-Speed Rotary Finisher is one of the only tools that can prepare a seedbed in the spring by leaving a level seedbed to plant into. It can also perform the act of residue management in the fall and succeed at both.

Justin Remus

AGCO Product Specialist

I studied agronomy at South Dakota State University. I have several years of experience working with students, growers and my own family farm to develop practices that work in the real world.

Currently, I cover territories in Minnesota and Iowa for the AGCO Corp working on several projects related to the 2017 AGCO Crop Tour. In addition, I have been working with several of the new tools that AGCO has brought to market in the past 12 months; the White Planter 9800VE Series and the Challenger 1000 Series.

Visit for more information.

See AGCO’s Latest Innovations at Farm Progress Show

Farm Progress Show





2015 is the biggest year yet for technology in the history of AGCO, and we’re bringing our newest innovations to the Farm Progress Show! We’ll be introducing six new products and services as part of AGCO’s Fuse strategy. Come see how AGCO’s Fuse Technologies and technology-enabled services can help you:

  • Revolutionize the way you manage your operation
  • Make decisions based on actionable data
  • Eliminate guess work

Introducing a new approach to farm optimization

We’ve got a great lineup planned, including a 61,000-square-foot, scaled-down version of a farm to demonstrate how we’re tackling the complex challenges in farming. You’ll also have the opportunity to see the latest innovations from all of our brands.

Here’s a sneak peak at a few other highlights:

  • Live, Pre-Owned Equipment Certification
  • FUSE Observation Deck & Giveaway
  • Headland Management Demo Experience
  • And more!

Visit the Fuse Tower on the AGCO lot between Second and Third Street, at Central Progress Avenue.

Can’t make it to the Farm Progress Show? Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for show updates.