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In-Field Bale-Drying System
There are a lot of benefits to big square bales but one drawback is that they're packed so tight that hay must be really dry to make quality bales, says custom operator Bob Holborn, Palmerston, Ontario, who worked together with a farm equipment manufacturer to come up with a new in-field drying system that lets him bale at moisture contents of up to 30 percent.
  Holborn started experimenting with the idea several years ago but it wasn't until last summer, when a customer had problems with heat buildup in high-moisture bales, that he put the idea to the test. It worked so well on problem bales, he used the system the rest of the summer.
  The idea is to stack big square bales into "stooks" of the kind sometimes used for small square bales. He stands the stooks tightly together, side by side so there's an open tunnel underneath. Then he puts a standard grain drying fan at one end of the tunnel and blocks off the other end with a couple extra bales. Air (unheated) blows through the tunnel and is forced up through the bales.
  Holborn says a 100 to 150-ft. line of bales needs to be aerated periodically for about three weeks, depending on the initial moisture level.
  He worked with Oscar Frey at Horst Welding in Listowel, Ontario, to develop a "stooker" to handle the bales. It makes a stook of five bales so that the stack only touches the ground along the edges of the two bottom bales. The unit attaches to a tractor 3-pt. or can be towed behind by a pickup or tractor. It has two support wheels on back. Hydraulic cylinders drop the side arms to the ground. Bumper bars pack bales tightly end to end as each stack is added to the line of bales. Bales are placed on the stooker by a front-end loader. Horst Welding plans to build a limited number of units this year. They sell for $3,500 (Canadian).
  Holborn notes that he has used both electric and pto-powered dryer fans. He says you can also use a silage blower to create the air flow. He recommends keeping tarps handy in case of rain. Otherwise, the bales do not have to be covered.
  This year Holborn and Frey plan to do additional testing of the system to identify what moisture contents work best, how long it takes to dry a certain number of bales, what length of stack works best, etc.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Oscar Frey, Horst Welding, RR3, Listowel, Ontario N4W 3G8 Canada (ph 519 291-4162; fax 519 291-53880; E-mail: sales@horst welding.com).

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2000 - Volume #24, Issue #2