THOSE who have travelled on the continent and farther afield will have noticed something startlingly different about big bale silage abroad.

It appears that the UK is the only country that stacks round bales on their side, Swiss roll style. Every other country uses a modification to the bale wrapper that places the bale on its end, like a can of baked beans.

Graham Robson, technical manager for crop packaging specialist UAT, believes that farmers should seriously look at changing the way they stack bales.

"Quite why the UK has not taken to bales stacked this way is not known, but all the bale wrapper manufacturers are capable of producing machines with the necessary modifications to allow the bale to be tipped onto its side at the point of ejection from the turntable.

"Now that we have the near perfect-shaped bale, it will be much easier to stack them this way.

"The bale's geometry lends itself much more to stacking on end, its strength and integrity are all in this direction. The ends are perfectly flat, making double-stacking easy and stacked in this way, will avoid the bales being squashed out of shape (particularly on low dry matter bales) which can cause film layers to open, as the mis-shapen bale stresses the film over-laps, eventually opening them up.

"This way of stacking also ensures the bale will always be protected from damage from the ground, as the end of the bale is covered with many more layers of film than the side.

"Either we are right and everybody else is wrong or the more likely scenario is that we are missing a trick and we really ought to start thinking about adopting the baked bean tin principle of stacking bales."

Updated: 09:27 Thursday, May 31, 2001