Net wrapping bales isnâ€™t cheap. Equipment costs $3,000 to 4,000 and plastic net is 75 cents to $1 more per bale than twine. Is it worth it?
Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska forage specialist, says net wrap can be better in three ways.
"Research from Wisconsin showed that net wrap reduces harvest losses about 1%. Thatâ€™s how much you lose while bales are spinning many times when wrapping with twine," he says.
Storage losses are quite a bit less with net wrap because net wrapped bales shed water better. Under Wisconsin conditions, twine wrapped bales lost 11% of their weight, but net wrapped bales only lost 7% during five to 12 months of outdoor storage. Thatâ€™s an extra 4% feed from net wrapping and doesnâ€™t even count the better forage quality found in net wrapped bales, he says.
"If you add the harvest and storage losses together to save 5% percent of your hay and it costs a dollar to wrap each bale, hay only needs to be worth about $35 a ton to pay for the net wrapping material," he explains.
By far the biggest savings, though, may be time. Net wrapping only takes a couple turns of the bale compared to 15, 20, even 30 turns for twine. Waiting to finish twine wrapping wastes time, burns fuel, and adds to tractor wear and tear. As a result, you can make 30% more bales per hour using net wrap, he says.