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History of Hay Baling Technique

Posted Oct 12, 2017 by Alan Xu

In most industrialized countries, hay is baled into compact bales after cut to make it easier to handle, transport and store. Most times hay bales are configured to dry and preserve some nutritional value of the crop bundled.

Before the 19th century, hay was cut by hand and most typically stored in haystacks using hay forks to rake and gather the scythed grasses into optimal sized heaps — neither too large (promoting conditions that might create spontaneous combustion), nor too small, so much of the pile is susceptible to rotting. In the 1860s mechanical cutting devices were developed; from these came the modern devices including mechanical mowers and balers. In 1872 a reaper that used a knotter device to bundle and bind hay was invented by Charles Withington; this was commercialized in 1874 by Cyrus McCormick.

Until 1947, the first round baler start production when Allis-Chalmers introduced the Roto-Baler. Large round bale can weight up to one ton, there comes the issues in long-haul transport. Due to the ability for round bales to roll away on a slope, they require specific treatment for safe transport and handling. One option that works with both large and small round bales is to equip the flat-bed trailer with guard-rails at either end, which prevent bales from rolling either forward or backward. Another solution is the saddle wagon, which has closely spaced rounded saddles or support posts in which round bales sit.

There are also recent innovation in hay storage has been the development of the silage. which is a high-moisture bale wrapped in plastic film. These are baled much wetter than hay bales, and are usually smaller than hay bales because the greater moisture content makes them heavier and harder to handle. These bales begin to ferment almost immediately, and the metal bale spear stabbed into the core becomes very warm to the touch from the fermentation process.

Besides round bale, large square bales become more and more popular among farmers. Large square bales are easier to transport than round bales, since there is little risk of the bale rolling off the back of a flatbed trailer. The square shape also saves space and allows a complete solid slab of hay to be stacked for transport and storage. Most balers allow adjustment of length and it is common to produce bales of twice the width, allowing stacks with brick-like alternating groups overlapping the row below at right angles, creating a strong structure.