Farm Industry News Blog

The geometry of hay

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On the heels of the Hay and Forage Expo, Jeff Ryan tells the story of how a couple of hay bales got loose on his hilly farm.

This week marked the annual Hay & Forage Expo where people can go to learn about all kinds of hay equipment. As a bit of a hay guy myself, I've been to several of these over the years. The youngster who was conducting surveys of showgoers just inside the gate was more than a little surprised when I gave him a number on just how many of them I've been to over the years when he asked. The show was in central Iowa this year at the semi-permanent site of the Farm Progress Show a few minutes west of Ames. Some years it gets rotated to actual working farms in the tri-state area of northeast Iowa, southeast Minnesota and southwest Wisconsin.

The ideal Hay & Forage Expo site has around 160 acres of alfalfa in either a single field or relatively contiguous smaller fields. That allows show organizers to put all of the equipment displays, field demonstration areas and parking within walking distance of one another. That's also the part that knocks me out of contention as a host for the event. Although, I remember being at one several years ago where the giant choppers were growling their way through a bunch of rock-filled windrows of hay in a somewhat distant field. You could hear all the stones hitting knives and blower pipes as the self-propelled choppers went across the demonstration field. There was some extreme wincing on the faces of all the factory service reps standing nearby, because they knew what their task was going to be in another hour or so when the demo was done: major knife readjustment and sharpening!

I remember telling Trusty Sidekick Lorne at the time, "Heck, we could have one of these shows here in our nine different fields and not even have to pick rock to do it!"    

What we can't do is level out all of the ground where we grow hay. Well, we can't do it in a realistically affordable manner. While this may be the Super Bowl of the forage industry, it does not come with all of the revenue that the NFL brings to their little dog and pony show.

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The Farm Industry News Blog features commentary from Willie Vogt, Daryl Bridenbaugh and Jeff Ryan.

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