If you’re one of America’s valued farmers or ranchers (we appreciate you!), odds are you’ve heard of round bale net wrap. It’s the engineered plastic product consumed by net wrap round balers that fills hay fields with beautiful, tidy, cylindrical bales each summer.
Over the last couple decades, round baling hay with net wrap has become a primary method for modern farmers' forage and crop residue baling operations. This is because it offers faster baling times, reduced labor costs, and improved efficiency relative to other traditional methods. Moreover, the tight and uniform coverage net wrap provides ensures consistent bale shapes, making it easier to stack and store bales. Does net wrap make sense for your baling operation? Do you have questions about how or where to buy? Here’s everything you need to know!
What Do You Use Net Wrap For?
Simple! Baler net wrap is used to hold together round bales of hay! But did you know that it has other useful applications? It is also commonly used to bale wheat straw and corn stalks. It is even used in automotive recycling to contain and secure crushed cars.
How Does Net Wrap Work?
The net wrap roll is loaded into a round baler (like a Vermeer 604R Signature, for example). Once the baler has formed a cylindrical bale of the desired size the net wrap is fed through the machine as the bale rotates, wrapping the bale tightly. The web-like structure of the net wrap grips the bale’s surface, preventing it from unraveling during transportation and storage.
What Is Baler Net Wrap Made Of?
Baler net wrap is typically made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) because it offers excellent strength for its weight, good flexibility and durability, and weather resistance. Carbon black is a common additive in plastics used to make net wrap to provide resistance to ultraviolet light – ensuring those hay bales hold up in the field for as long as possible.
Net wrap is manufactured by extruding the HDPE resin into a very thin film, cutting that film into narrow strands, and weaving those strands into the web-like structure that makes up the net wrap. The specific materials and manufacturing processes used are unique to each net wrap manufacturer, but the goal remains the same: Create a strong and flexible product that meets the needs of the farmer that is light weight and affordable.
Is Net Wrap Better Than Twine?
Net wrap has proven to be better than twine for round baling in many ways, but each method has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Let’s review the pros and cons of each so you can answer the net wrap vs twine debate for your own application!
Net Wrap Pros And Cons:Pros:
- Faster Baling: Requiring only 3 to 5 wraps compared to up to 30 wraps for twine, time in the tractor can be greatly reduced by using net wrap.
- Secure Binding: The uniform web-like structure of net wrap creates a tight, uniform cover around the bale, reducing hay loss due to handling.
- Weather Protection: Net wrap provides improved water shedding and can reduce dry matter losses in outdoor storage by up to 35% compared to twine.
- Easier Handling: Bales are more uniform in shape and size compared to twine, making them easier and more efficient to transport and store.
- Easier to Sell: Net wrapped bales – particularly ones wrapped with cover edge net wrap – have better aesthetic appeal and marketability.
- Cost: Net wrap material is more expensive than twine per bale, and also typically requires a larger investment in equipment.
- Can Contaminate Feed: If the hay is fed using a bale processor and the net wrap isn’t removed beforehand, cows may ingest small pieces of net wrap and accumulate in the rumen, eventually killing the cow.
- Tough in Cold Conditions: Net wrapped bales are more inclined to freeze hard to the ground, and net wrap is tougher to remove from a frozen bale than twine.
Twine Pros and Cons:Pros:
- Cost-Effective: Twine is generally less expensive than net wrap per bale and generally requires a smaller investment in equipment.
- Time-Tested: Twine has been used longer and many farmers are already familiar with tried and true methods of twine baling.
- Eco-Friendly: Twine is typically easier to recycle than net wrap, and also poses less risk to wildlife than net wrap, which when not properly disposed of can result in entanglement.
- Slower Application: It takes more time to apply twine to round bales than net wrap – increasing the number of labor hours required to get the job done.
- Less Secure: It is challenging to achieve the sale level of tight consistent coverage as net wrap, leading to more spoilage, loss in transportation, and difficulty stacking and storing efficiently.
- Tougher Sell: If you’re looking to sell your hay, round bales baled with twine are less aesthetically pleasing and less marketable to potential buyers.
What Are The Sizes of Net Wrap?
Net wrap size is typically expressed in a series of two numbers: the width of the roll in inches by the length of the roll in feet (for example: 48” x 9840’ net wrap is 48 inches wide with a total roll length of 9840 feet). Net wrap is manufactured in several different size options to accommodate different bale diameters, baler specifications, and user preferences. Let’s review some common net wrap sizes starting first with roll width.
How Wide Is A Roll Of Net Wrap?
There are four primary net wrap widths used in the industry:
- 48 Inch Net Wrap: This net wrap size is used with balers that generate four-foot-wide bales. It is commonly referred to as “four foot edge-to-edge” net wrap because it will cover the complete lateral surface of a 4-foot-wide bale from one edge to the other.
- 51 Inch Net Wrap: This net wrap size is also used with 4-foot balers. It is commonly referred to as “four foot cover edge” because this net wrap will extend beyond the full lateral surface of a 4-foot bale on both sides, slightly rounding and covering the edges of the bale.
- 64 Inch Net Wrap: This net wrap size is used with balers that generate five-foot-wide bales. It is commonly referred to as “five foot edge-to-edge” net wrap because it will cover the complete lateral surface of a 5-foot-wide bale from one edge to the other.
- 67 Inch Net Wrap: This net wrap size is also used with 5-foot balers. It is commonly referred to as “five foot cover edge” because this net wrap will extend beyond the full lateral surface of a 5-foot bale on both sides, slightly rounding and covering the edges of the bale.
How Long is a Roll of Net Wrap?
There are many different net wrap lengths and lengths offerings vary by brand and manufacturer:
- 7000’ – Standard Length for 64” and 67” Net Wrap: The 7000 foot roll length is standard for the 5-foot net wrap widths (64” net wrap and 67” net wrap).
- Extended Lengths for 64” and 67” Net Wrap: Net wrap roll lengths longer than 7000 feet for 64” and 67” wide net wrap are typically referred to as “extended lengths”. Common extended lengths for 64” and 67” wide net wrap include 8000’, 8800’, 9000’, 9700’, and 10000’ – all of which could be referred to as “extended length net wrap”.
- 9840’ – Standard Length for 48” and 51” Net Wrap: The 9840 foot roll length is standard for the 4-foot net wrap widths (48” net wrap and 51” net wrap).
- Extended Lengths for 48” and 51” Net Wrap: Net wrap roll lengths longer than 9840 feet for 48” and 51” wide net wrap are typically referred to as “extended lengths”. Common extended lengths for 48” and 51” wide net wrap include: 11800’, 12500’, 13000’, and 14700’ – all of which could be referred to as “extended length net wrap”
What is Cover Edge Net Wrap? Should I use it?
“Cover edge” net wrap is a term often used to identify net wrap that is slightly wider than the width of the bale – extending the complete lateral distance of the bale plus a little extra on each side to “cover the edges”. This terminology is likely derived from the John Deere CoverEdge™ net wrap product line which pioneered and popularized this technology. For 4-foot-wide bales, “cover edge” implies a roll width of 51” (instead of the standard "edge-to-edge" width of 48"). For 5-foot wide bales, “cover edge” implies a roll width of 67” net wrap (instead of the standard "edge-to-edge" width of 64". For both bale widths, the "cover edge" size is three inches wider than the standard or “edge-to-edge” size.
"Cover edge" net wrap is a great choice if you like a tidy bale – the bale edges are cleaner and typically result in less loss during transportation and storage. The net wrap is typically around 6-7% more expensive than the equivalent "edge-to-edge" net wrap due to the additional volume of plastic used. Similarly, a "cover edge" net wrap roll also weighs about 6-7% more than the equivalent "edge-to-edge" net wrap roll. Always ensure your baler is capable of feeding "cover edge" net wrap sizes before you buy!
How Much Does It Cost To Net Wrap A Bale?
A quick and simple answer is $1 to $2 in net wrap per bale. Other costs to consider include equipment costs and labor costs. To project a more exact cost of net wrap per bale, you must know and understand these three variables: the price per foot of length you will pay for the net wrap, the target diameter of the bales you’ll be baling, and the number of net wrap layers, or “wraps” around each bale that you plan to apply. Let’s step through each of those variables one by one.
First, you need to know the price per foot you’re going to have to pay for the net wrap. This can be a challenge because there are so many different kinds of net wrap for sale and the best option for you depends on several factors (see What Is The Best Net Wrap For Round Balers?). Also don’t forget that if you need to factor in the cost to transport that net wrap to where it will be used. If you’re pulling a trailer to your nearest farm store to bring a couple pallets home, you won’t pay for shipping costs at the counter, but make sure you consider the cost of transportation when you figure your total net wrap cost per roll. As of 2023 we’ve seen anywhere from $200 to $400+ per roll, so for this calculation let’s assume you bought 9840’ rolls with a landed cost at your door of $307 per roll. This means your cost per foot for net wrap is $0.0312 – a little more than 3 pennies ($307 divided by 9840’ equals $0.0312/foot).
Next, you need to know the target diameter of the bales you’ll be baling. This is also commonly referred to as “bale height”. Make sure you understand the capabilities of your baler when planning your bale diameter. For this calculation, we’ll assume a target bale diameter of 5 feet. This value is multiplied by pi (π) to determine the circumference of your bale in feet – this can be visualized as the length of net wrap required to make one “wrap” around the bale.
Last, you need to know the target number of net wrap layers or “wraps” that you plan to apply to each bale. This is the number of full rotations around the bale that the net wrap will be applied. Different brands and manufacturers recommend different wrap counts for different applications, and personal preference is also a factor as most hay farmers experiment with this for each unique application and find an amount that works well for them. For this calculation, we’ll assume a target of three and a half (3.5) layers or net wrap per bale.
With these variables, we can quickly calculate the projected cost of the net wrap per bale. We have our cost per foot multiplied by the circumference of a bale (which is the target bale diameter multiplied by π) multiplied by the target number of net wrap layers per bale. In our example this is expressed with the following equation:
$0.0312 ×(5 𝑓𝑡∗ 𝜋)∗3.5 𝑤𝑟𝑎𝑝𝑠=$1.71 𝑝𝑒𝑟 𝑏𝑎𝑙𝑒
Remember, understanding the cost of the net wrap per bale is only one small piece of the equation. Don’t forget to consider your equipment, fuel, and labor costs!
What Brands Of Net Wrap Are There?
Lots! John Deer Net Wrap, Bridon net wrap (Magnet, Integra, and MAX), Vermeer net wrap, Pritchett net wrap, New Holland net wrap (Armour Net), Ag-Rite net wrap, and Bale Tuff net wrap just to name a few! Net wrap is manufactured and distributed all over the world due to the global applicability of hay baling products. The “giant” in the industry today is Tama Group, which operates many net wrap companies including Bridon USA, Tama USA, Tama UK, and Novatex. They manufacture and distributes many Tama net wrap brands and has strong partnerships with top OEMs including John Deere, Case IH, New Holland, Kubota, Kuhn, Massey Ferguson, McHale, and more, most of which offer their own brand of net wrap. In addition to these big OEM brands, it is also common for large distributors like Pritchett Twine or Jones Twine & Net Wrap to source and distribute their own unique brands of net wrap.
What Is The Best Net Wrap For Round Balers?
The best net wrap for round balers is one that you find dependable, works well for your baler and baling conditions, and is delivered to your door at the lowest possible price. It can be a challenge to find the best net wrap if your current net wrap provider has limited options, is pressuring you into their OEM brand, or requires you to buy in bulk quantities (preventing you from trying more than one product).
How do I Find the Cheapest Net Wrap?
Simple! Check out Agzaga.com’s wide selection of baler net wrap you can buy online. Transparent net wrap prices are listed right there on the site so you don’t have to worry about calling distributors, haggling with sales reps, or driving to the nearest farm store to check the price. It’s simply the best place to shop net wrap for sale online.
Consider your shipping costs! Shipping is one of the biggest costs in manufacturing and distributing net wrap, so the more steps in your net wrap supply chain, the more it is probably costing you. If you’re traveling to pick up and transport your net wrap, don’t forget that time is money – your valuable time is part of that cost. If you’re buying from a distributor that is shipping it to you, that shipping price is built into your cost – even if you don’t see it as a line item on your bill. Agzaga.com offers transparent and affordable shipping directly to your door (as low as $20/roll), and never charges more than $99.99 for standard shipping – creating great value for customers buying in pallet quantities online.
How do I Find a Net Wrap that Works for Me?
It is very common for hay farmers to try multiple net wrap types before finding a perfect match. The best way to find what works for you is to try a few different net wrap options. This can be tough if your distributor requires you to buy in bulk or if your local dealer only offers the OEM brand. Agzaga.com offers tons of net wrap options with no minimum quantity to buy, allowing farmers to try multiple net wraps in the same hay season.
Is Net Wrap Worth It?
Your decision of net wrap vs twine needs to be based on the factors you care most about in your application. Consider ranking some of the following factors for your case: bale presentation, marketability/sale price, labor costs, equipment costs, potential storage loss, nutrition, and operating costs.
If keeping your equipment and operating costs low is near the top of your list, twine might be the best option for you. Twine balers have stood the test of time and buying the twine to bale with is generally cheaper per bale than net wrap for the baling material itself. Finding affordable round balers may also be easier if you’re open to using twine. While savings on new equipment are usually modest (expect 5-10%), we’ve seen savings of up to 50% on used twine round balers compared to similar used net wrap balers.
If you’re looking to minimize storage/handling losses or reduce your labor costs/time in field, then net wrap may be the way to go. A study by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) found that net wrapping round bales reduced storage and handling losses by 65% compared to twine. Another ASABE study indicated that a net wrap round baler could create 32% more bales per hour compared to a twine round baler.
If you want to maximize the sale value of your bales or are silage wrapping high-moisture forage, then you also might consider net wrap. Net wrapped bales are typically more marketable than twine wrapped bales because of their uniform and tidy shape. For plastic wrapped bales, net wrap reduces the risk of creating holes in the plastic film, reducing the potential for losses due to mold.
Regardless of how you bale your hay, Agzaga.com is the best place to go to shop for net wrap, twine, silage wrap, and all your hay farming needs online!