Written By: Logan Staheli
The Roberts Family Increased Their Bale Weights by 120 lbs per Bale
Ben Roberts of Roberts Legacy Farm states that their bale weights increased by around 120 lbs per bale after purchasing the steamer. They are currently running 2 John Deere L341 3×4 balers. That’s a weight increase of around 7-10%. Ben concluded, “When you go through and you put 10,000 bales on a baler, and you do that at 120 lbs each, that starts to add up in terms of what you’re making in farming.”
So, what caused this bale weight increase? Many critics of the steamer would suggest that the bale weight increase is due to water added through steam. However, thousands of customers around the globe know it’s not just water weight. In this blog, we will discuss what almost every single DewPoint steamer customer can attest to – Increased bale weight.
Is it Water or Leaves
Many critics of the steamer say that increased bales weights must be from the added water produced by the steam. However, here are a few facts to consider when baling hay with the Steamer.
- Steam will add 5-7 gallons of water per ton of hay: The moisture you will add to your dry hay during baling is about 5-7 gallons per ton on average. That equates to around 40-56 lbs of water per ton of hay. You also have to consider steam losses to the atmosphere during the baling process. We assume that the actual absorbed moisture is closer to 35-48 lbs per ton of hay or 2-2.5% moisture. In the case of the Roberts family, the added water weight by steaming the hay would equate to around 30-35 lbs per 3×4 bale.
- Water weight is water weight: Whether you bale with steam or with natural dew, water weight is water weight. That means that if you bale at 12-13% moisture levels with natural dew, baling with steam at 12-13% won’t add any additional water weight. Remember, the most moisture you can add to the bale is around 2-3%. However, that 2-3% goes a long way when you are talking about steam. Hay produced with steam at 12% often looks like 15-16% hay. For more on why steam is so effective click HERE.
- Bale Density: There is some bale weight increase due to increased bale density as well, but where side by side comparisons have been done by farmers, almost all of them agree that they see a 5-7% bale weight increase simply because of the additional leaf retention in their baled hay. Steamer owner Ryan Schwebach states, “Our bale counts are the same. The bales are heavier so where is the yield really coming from? Well if you start looking on the ground there’s not nearly as many leaves.”
So, now that we have looked at a few of the facts and characteristics of steam, what could you expect to see on your farm by implementing a steamer?
What to Expect on Your Farm
When looking at how the machine pays for itself, we usually use conservative numbers when calculating the added value from increased leaf retention. We typically see bale weight increases anywhere from 5-10% with a very conservative number being around 7%. We feel very confident that operations can experience a weight increase of 7% by adding the steamer. In alfalfa, that is largely due to reducing leaf loss that would have occurred by baling in dry or poor conditions.
In other crops like grasses, three-way, or oats, the steamer can increase bale weights as well and make a more dense and compact bale with better flake formation. In crops like these, it’s not so much the leaf retention that increases the weight, it’s the fact that the steam is softening the crop enough to allow the baler to smash the stems and pack more hay into each flake.
If you are interested in how increased bale weight could affect your farm’s bottom line<, check out our value spreadsheet ROI tool by clicking HERE.
Increased bale weight generated by the steamer is so much more than just water. It’s a better quality, denser, and in alfalfa, a much leafier and palatable product. We hope you find this blog helpful. Stay tuned for our next blog article and related video.