The KESLA 700T & Valtra T194 work in harmony to gather and load square hay bales, spread lime, carry heavy loads and move goods.
Situated in Loimaa-Mellilä, Western Finland, the family farm run by Anja and Kalevi Kuusela has been expertly producing hay and grain for decades. Nowadays, the farm utilizes top of the line methods and machinery to produce hay and straw, the sale of which has long been the farm’s main source of income. The Kuuselas have been marketing hay products under their own “Pollenpaali” brand (www.pollenpaali.fi) since the early 2000s and the farm has been a member of the “Quality Hay Group of Southern Finland” (laatuheina.com) from the outset. And if proof was needed of the family’s expertise and business success, it came in 2013 when Kalevi Kuusela was named Haymaker of the Year. In 2016, the Kuusela’s family business was incorporated as Pollenpaali Ltd., with Anja and Kalevi taking ownership. All three of the couple’s grown-up children, Tiia, Aku, and Eetu, chose to follow in the footsteps of their parents and have been more than happy to play their part in the development of the family business. And when it comes to the question of how big the business can grow, Kalevi wryly smiles before answering; “We make as many bales as the weather permits.”
Dry hay, haylage and straw
Dry hay and straw are baled with two balers into large square bales before being collected with a powerful Arcusin bale stacker, the only one currently used in Finland. Harvesting time means a lot of hard work for the whole Kuusela family. Thankfully, they are well-equipped with the best in baling machinery. The farm has as many as six cold air dryers and a few trailers suitable for drying at its disposal. This helps the family produce as many small bales as the baler can handle. The Arcusin bale stacker is especially helpful in this regard. Pre-dried haylage is baled with a large square baler and is then wrapped in plastic.
The bales produced by the farm’s two square balers are 120 cm wide and come in heights of either 70 or 90 cm. The bale length can be adjusted to a maximum of 300 cm and is optimized for logistical reasons and to best suit the needs of end customer. It is precisely due to some of the technical restrictions imposed when transporting the bales that the farm’s straw bales are generally made to a length of 230 cm. The main hay markets are the horse and cattle farms in the south of Finland - from Pori in the west, through Tampere and on to Kotka in the east. The farm’s straw is sold as bedding material for cattle farms, for use in gardening, and as a cultivation substrate for mushroom harvesting. In terms of the revenue from hay and straw, each represents around 50% of the farm’s turnover. The maximum weight of the farm’s bales is around 500 kg, which is dictated by the load handling capacity of Pollenpaali’s customers.
Taking advantage of the complete and automated control afforded by the 700T’s rear-mounted design
Each and every one of the plastic-wrapped bails plucked from the farm’s fields is done so with a Kesla 700T crane mounted on the rear bridge of a Valtra T194 tractor; with the combination of giant tractor and super long crane arm being the only one of its kind in Finland. “The rear-mounted solution is the only viable option for us, as it allows us to use a wide range of work equipment alongside the buckets and grapple. For example, a lot of our bales are loaded in one place, such as when loading a car. It would be difficult to do this if the loader was fixed to a trailer. It would also be impossible to collect the bales from the fields at speed. The stabilizers can’t be used on a trailer when it’s in motion, meaning a loader mounted on a tow bar trailer would cause the trailer to turn and swerve. Now, though, the suspension and tilt of the Valtra’s front axle are hydraulically locked when loading, with all the wheels functioning as stabilizers”, explains Aku Kuusela with a surprising level of expertise for such a young farmer.
Aku also makes fine use of the Valtra Auto-Guide, purchased primarily for lime spreading, when harvesting bales. “I drive between two rows of bales and plot the route, then turn the seat around, set the tractor in motion and quickly start lifting the bales on both sides. Thanks to the Auto-Guide, I can concentrate on collecting the bales and everything just goes so smoothly.” Aku is yet to officially test Kesla’s ProC control system as he primarily collects the bales alone. The system can easily handle several user profiles when other drivers start using the rig. Based on his experience to-date, Aku is full of praise for the ability to adjust the power to suit different grapples, which lets him work in just the way he likes.
700T - a multipurpose farming machine
The Kuusela family have been using a rear-mounted grapple loader with tractors since 1994, so the seeds for further development were already well bedded in. Since then, the size and weight of the bales they produce has grown, leading to a need for more powerful and larger loaders than before. The farm currently uses a factory-modified KESLA 700T with a Jake 800 frame mounting for the Valtra T194 tractor, which it acquired in the summer of 2017. The rig comes equipped with a bale spear, clamshell bucket, and a wood grapple. “It really is a multipurpose piece of kit; we can collect bales, move and load them, carry lime and mulch, lift drainpipes, dig ditches, and you can even clean your room with it! And, thanks to the quick couplings, it’s quick and easy to switch between different tools”, explains a satisfied Kalevi Kuusela.
The Kuuselas have been using Valtra tractors on their farm since 1994. In fact, the T194 purchased the summer before last is the sixth new and domestically manufactured tractor to grace the farm. In addition to these machines, the family estimates they have owned at least nine second-hand tractors. The two other Valtra tractors used on the farm have clocked up thousands of working hours. In addition to the Valtra machines, the Pollenpaali haymakers also own three Fendt tractors. All of Pollenpaali’s plastic-wrapped bales are collected and loaded by the Kesla 700T crane & Valtra T194 tractor, which is used by the farm almost every day of the year. Truly the sign of a successful partnership!
- Kuusela Farm, Pollenpaali Ltd, Loimaa-Mellilä
- “Quality Hay Group of Southern Finland” (laatuheina.com)
- More than 74,000 horses across 16,000 studs in Finland