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Lely RP 160 baler

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

I tested the Lely RP 160 baler late last sum­mer (and by a New Zealand 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.

I threw in a full set of knives and an hon­est 1.35m bale size to re­ally sort the men from the boys.

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.

You know what I mean: 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.


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.

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 be­tween our test ma­chine and older mod­els in­cluded thicker and longer tines, a larger coil to in­crease life in New Zealand’s of­ten-rough bal­ing con­di­tions, and an ad­justed tine an­gle.

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.

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.


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 was both ex­cep­tional and con­sis­tent.

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

The Xtra­cut-specced balers have two sets of knife banks, so on our spec ma­chine (17-knife model) you could 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.

It’s 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.


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 de­spite the space avail­able on the main op­er­at­ing screen.


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.

The four end­less belts are a com­bi­na­tion of syn­thetic ma­te­rial and rub­ber lay­ers.

This al­lows for 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.

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.


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

If you look at some of the bale count to­tals 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, I reckon that state­ment may well be am­bi­tious but prob­a­bly isn’t rub­bish.

1. The Lely RP 160 baler in test mode

2. The com­pact rear end re­duces the risk of the ejected bale do­ing any cos­metic dam­age

3. The turn­able con­tour wheels and large

windrow roller take the rows with ease 4. The ag­gres­sive rotor had no trou­ble

gob­bling the grass

5. Ac­cess, easy load­ing, and safety are all

boxes well ticked

6. Three bale core rollers make tight,

con­sis­tent bales

7. The bale eas­ily leaves the cham­ber with

plenty of room

8. Easy-to-use E-Link Pro mon­i­tor

9. Daily main­te­nance points are easy to ac­cess

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