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Dew Simulator Adds Moisture To Hay Bales
Dry conditions in the western U.S. and Canada often mean hay growers have to wait - sometimes for days - for natural dew to form before they can start baling. A new "dew simulator" machine solves that problem by applying steam to hay as it's being baled.
"It lets you bale hay 24 hours a day and maintain the right moisture content from start to finish," says inventor Dave Staheli, Cedar City, Utah, who has spent the past two years developing the patented system.
The "DewPoint Simulator" is a self-contained, trailer-mounted steam generator that hooks up between the tractor and baler. A pto shaft and hydraulic lines run through the trailer chassis back to the baler.
The trailer is equipped with a boiler and a 650 or 1,300-gal. stainless steel water tank, as well as diesel tanks (to fire the boiler burner) and a gas-engine powered electrical generator (to power the boiler's electrical system and DewPoint Simulator controls). Steam delivery hoses extend from the boiler back to the baler.
Injection manifolds mounted above and below the baler's pickup assembly apply steam to the hay, softening it up instantly to prevent leaf loss and shattering during movement into the baler. Additional steam is injected into hay as it passes through the feed chamber and just before it's compressed in the bale chamber. An electronic moisture sensor mounted in the bale chamber reads the bale's moisture level and displays it on a moisture meter inside the tractor cab. The operator can adjust moisture level on-the-go from the cab by using a potentiometer that controls electric-actuated steam valves on the steam generator.
"I think it's one of the most significant advances in baled hay production since the development of the baler itself," says Staheli. "Because of dry atmospheric conditions, most hay growers in the West must wait for dew to form before they can start baling. On average they can bale only 3 to 4 hours a day, and sometimes they have to wait a week or longer for dew to form. If they can't wait and have to bale when it's too dry they often get docked $20 to $40 a ton.
"So far we've developed two models - the 3100 for use with 3-string balers including the Hesston 4690, New Holland 500, 505, 515 and Freeman 330 and 370; and the 6100 for use with the Hesston 4900 1-ton baler. We haven't tested it yet on round balers. The demand for these two models is growing very fast. However, we still have two more models under development - one for 2-string balers and one specially de-signed for 3-string custom operators where highway travel is required.
"It's not an inexpensive system. For ex-ample, the 6100 model sells for about $70,000. However, when you look at all the economics it saves you money. Our tests show that one baler hooked to the DewPoint system can do the work of two or three conventional balers. The dew simulator leaves each flake of the bale more defined and compact which reduces leaf loss and waste during handling and feeding. Another advantage is that bale density can be increased significantly, allowing you to store more tons of hay inside a barn. Also, fewer bales are needed on a truck in order to reach legal maximum weight limits.
Staheli plans to sponsor field demonstrations of the Dew Simulator this summer.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dave Staheli, Staheli West, Inc., 1280 West 3695 North, Cedar City, Utah 84720 (ph 801 586-3005; fax 6256).

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1997 - Volume #21, Issue #3