This is a simple idea and relatively cheap for a farmer who likes hay milk : a hay dryer with a greenhouse making it possible to make hay without thinking about rain. With that method, we can make hay in Belgium begin May when the wheater is still very changing. We then become hay as rich as silage but without the drawbacks
A dream of ecologist people ? However greenhouses which dry sludge exist :
We will see later that a greenhouse can dry the same grassland surface as a big barn dryer.
Hay has more qualities than silage : it is lighter and more funny to handle than silage and there is no risk of listeriose nor butyric germs in the cheese. Farmers make silage because the silage can be made when the grass is not totally dry.
Drying hay on the ground needs a long period without rain and that doesn't arrive when the grass is the most rich. Hay can be dryed in a barn but it needs then fossil energies or the biomethanization. What I will explain is better than a dryer with biomethanization of manure because it is not made at the expense of the soil humus. With the biomethanization, the soil becomes poorer. Presently there are dryers with a dehumidifier using a heat pump : the humidity of the air is condensed on the cold wall of the heat pump and is eliminated. This dry air will then heat on the warm wall of the heat pump, and becomes so still dryer. That heat pump needs energie, much more thant my dryer which has only fans. In France, farmers are drying with air which is heated under the roof of the barn warmed up with the sun. But it is not enough in Belgium and the roof is very expensive..
What we seek is to make hay without rain. In Belgium, 2 days sunny weather are frequent. More than 2 days is doubtful. It is better to have the hay inside into 2 days.
After tedding on the ground, the hay is harvested with 40 % humidity, like silage. Then it is harvested in a greenhouse where the hay is safe from rain. If after that, the weather is variable, the greenhouse warms up enough during the sunny periods. Of course, it is not possible to ted when there is a long rain period. And if the rain arrives after 2 days drying in the greenhouse, when the hay is not completely dry, it will not rain continuously more than one day and then there are sunny periods again. We only have to prolong the drying process one of two days and the sunny periods are then enough to dry totally the hay.
In a closed greenhouse full in the sun, the temperature reaches more than 50 °C. Hay must stay under 40 °C in order to not destroy its nutritive qualities. So it is necessary to use two fans. The first one is turning permanently and the second one begins to work when the temperature in the greenhouse becomes greater than 37 °C.
A greenhouse 2,7 m high is not so expensive but a large tractor cannot go inside Thus, we must haverst large round bales on the grassland, put them in the greenhouse with a wheel loader and unroll them.
It is necessary to turn the grass in the greenhouse because only the upper lay will dry efficiently. In a greenhouse 2,7 m high, we can use a little tedder you can see here :
With that little tedder the whole surface of the greenhouse can be covered with hay except a strip wide as the width of the little tedder. When the little tedder reaches the end of the strip, it must go back along the same way where there is no more hay in order to project the hay on the sheet always in the same direction. So, we lose a minimum amount of space.
A mini-tedder in a 2,7 m high greenhouse needs 1,4 mètre width. If we work at 2 km/hour, a greenhouse of 7 * 30 mètres is turned after 2 * (7 -1,4)/ 1,4 * 30 / 1.000 / 2 * 60 = 7 minutes.
When the hay is dry, it must leave the greenhouse and be put on the ground outside where we can make again round bales with a tractor and a baler. To put the hay outside, we can use an aluminium sheet as long as the greenhouse. Farmers can buy a 24 m long spool, 1,5 m wide and 2 or 3 mm thick.It costs more or less 1.000 €. The greenhouse wiil stay opened at one of its ends and so the sheet can easily enter in the greenhouse across the whole width of the greenhouse. The sheet is dragged on the ground with a wheel loader. To begin, it is positioned on the empty hay strip where the little tedder must work. When the iron sheet is in the greenhouse, the farmer will travel on the side of the sheet with the little tedder which throws the hay on the sheet. Then, the sheet is dragged outside the the tractor and the baler can easily make large round bales. But is it not more simply pushing the hay outside with a wheel loader or with a rake as our parents did with a horse ? Or such as this :
With large glass greenhouse 5 m high, the loader wagon can easily enter without leaving the seat of the tractor.
Farmers can wonder whether ultraviolet rays from the sun will not detroy the vitamins in the hay in the greenhouse. Let us compare one hectare hay on the grassland and what its becomes in the greenhouse. On the grassland, 100 ares are subjected to direct sunlight. In the greenhouse, it is 2 ares because only the upper lay is reached with the sun rays. The amount ultraviolet rays received by the hay in the greenhouse are significantly lesser than in the grassland . The perfectionists can hang a louver in the middle of the greenhouse through which the air can flow but not the sunlight. That louver must not lean against the wall of the greenhouse but must hang in its middle because the sun must come inside in order to increase the temperature. But I think it is excessive.
Plastic greenhouses 2,7 meter high.
With one greenhouse of 30 m * 7 from Filclair (Belgium), the RK7 which costs 6.500 €, we can own one hectare at a time.One hectare at a time seems to be too little but with a greenhouse we have to work in another way : instead of one large harvest, we have to make numerous little harvests. Farmers who are drying in a barn with a dehumidifier and cells where the hay reachs 7 meters height are also obliged to make numerous little harvests because they are limited by the surface of the cells where they can put only 1 to 1,5 meter hay. If those farmers make 30 hectares in one year, they will not make more than 1 meter / 7 meter * 30 hectares, or 4 or 5 hectares each time. If we have 3 or 4 greenhouses of 30 m * 7 m, we can do even good but it kosts much less.
The farmer has to follow the weather broadcast to see if there will be two sunny days.
One hectare produces in one cut 4.000 kg dry hay. If the hay contained 40 % d'humidity when it was put in the greenhouse, 1 kg hay must evacuate 0,4 kg water. The psychrometric diagram indicates that, when the temperature 22 °C is and reaches 50 °C in the greenhouse, 1 kg dry air can absorb 7 kcal and 8,5 gr water. Actually, the temperature will reach more than 50 °C if the greenhouse is completely closed. But as the air absorbs water, its temperature will decrease. With a propeller fan, the temperature in the greenhouse will be 25 or 30 °C.
If the hay is put in the greenhouse with 40 % d'humidity, 1,66 kg of that grass contains 0,66 kg water, whereas 1,18 kg dry hay with 16 % humidity contains 0,18 kg water. 1 kg dry hay contains 0,18 / 1,18 = 0,15 kg water. To obtain 1,18 kg hay we must extract 0,66 - 0,18 = 0,48 kg water. For 1 kg hay we must extract 0,48 / 1, 18 = 0, 40 kg water.
If the greenhouse has as dimensions 30 m * 7 * 2,7 (then length of the greenhouse may not be greater the 30 m to have a good ventilation), it has a volume of 567 m³and as the weight of 1 m³ air is 1,2 kg at 20 °C, the total weight of the air in the greenhouse is 680 kg.
For one m², it receives 5 kWh a day, but all that energie does not come in the greenhouse. Thermal solar panels have an efficiency of 40 %. We will suppose it is the same for the greenhouse.
In one summer day with sun, we have
5 kWh/m² * 40% * (2,7 m + 7 m) * 30 m = 600 kWh
The greenhouse receives in one hour 600 kWh * 861 kcal/kWh /8 hours = 64575 kcal/hour
But we know that 7 kcal and 8,5 gr water are absorbed by1 kg dry air
Thus, 1 kcal is absorbed by 1 / 7 kg dry air
64575 kcal/hour need 1 / 7 * 64575 kg dry air sec to be absorbed or 9225 kg dry air
1 kg dry air absorbs 8,5 gr water
9225 kg dry air absorb 9225 * 8,5 / 1.000 = 78 kg water
As the weight of the air in the greenhouse is 680 kg, the air in the greenhouse will be removed 9225 / 680 = 13 times per hour while the air absorbs 78 kg water.
In one day we can extract : 78 kg * 8 = 624 kg water or, 624 kg water / 0,4 kg water/kg hay with 40 % humidity = 1560 kg hay / day. Between 4000 / 1560 = 2,5 days, we dry 4000 kg hay, more or less one hectare.
The bed hay in the greenhouse is not very high and the hay is not compact. I measured with a little bale : the loose hay is 30 kg/m³. The height of the hay in the greenhouse is then 4000 kg / (7 m * 30 m) / 30 kg/m³ = 0,65 m or 65 cm.
4.000 kg hay / ha is a first not too early cut. If we make 4 cuts a year for barn drying, the grassland gives more : making now barn dryiing, a farmer ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-QH_uLBPJc ) increased his harvest from 7 ton to 11 ton dry material, or 13 ton hay on one hectare. Thus, each of those 4 cuts produces 3.000 kg hay.
If we put 3.000 kg hay in the greenhouse, it is 3000 kg / (7 m * 30 m) / 30 kg/m³ = 0,47 m high. We can dry those 3.000 kg between 3000 kg / 1560 kg/day = 2 days
If we dry 2 times in the week, the greenhouse is used 4 days in the week. Let us take no more because some days will be with rain. Thus, we dry 2 * 1 ha or 2 hectare a week. Between May and September, there are 20 weeks. We can harvest with a greenhouse 2 ha/week * 20 weeks = 40 ha. If we have 2 greenhouses, we can harvest 80 ha. But we make 4 cuts a year on the same surfaces. Thus, 2 greenhouses can annually dry 80 / 4 = 20 hectares
We often hear that hay drying in a greenhouse is only made for very small farms. That is not correct : I found on the internet a farm of 45 ha grassland with an industrial dryer with a surface of 8 meters * 40, or 320 m² for a harvest of about 20 hectares, et normally, the drying process allows only to lay down 1 meter hay at a time In a greenhouse of 8 meters * 30 we lay down a bed of 65 cm hay. Thus, 2 greenhouses dry the same volume as that industrial dryer of 8 * 40 m or 320 m². Because 8*40*1 = x *8*30*0.65. We conclude x = 2. Thus, 2 greenhouses can dry 20 hectares a year, between May and September.
We supposed the hay was first dryed 2 days on the grassland. We can also place the grass directly in the greenhouse. We have then much less waste of broken leaves than with a tedder. But we cannot then make more than one harvest a week and 2 greenhouses can only dry 10 hectares.
7 kcal are absorbed by 1 kg dry air. If the sun gives more calories, we have to blow more otherwise the temperature will increase. We can install two propeller fans : the first one is working continuously and the other one starts when the temperature reachs 37 °C.
The greenhouse has a volume of 567 m³ which are ejected 13 times a hour. The flow of the propeller fans is 567 m³ * 13 times / hour = 7400 m³/hour. A propeller fan with 7400 m³/hour often has a power of 0,5 kW. For on cut of 3000 kg hay, the propeller fan needs 0,5 kW * 24 hours * 2 days * 0.25 €/kWh electricity = 6 €. If we have to make 20 hectares in one year producing 10000 kg hay / hectare, the yearly cost to dry the hay is 6 € * 20 * 10000 / 3000 = 400 €, or 6 / 3000 = 0,002 €/kg hay. In energie expressed : 3.000 kg hay need 0,5 kW * 24 hours * 2 day = 24 kWh. Thus, 20 ha giving 10.000 kg hay/year need 1.600 kWh.
Glass greenhouses 5 meter high.
Plactic greenhouses factory say that a greenhouse more than 4m high can be broken with the wind and that they need beton foundations. However, those foundations are very expensive : one m³ cotst 400 €. Those greenhouses often have horizontal staves at 3,5 m height. It is too low for a tractor or a loader wagon.
A 5 m high glass greenhouse is a little more expensive.Of course the price is different from a 2,7 m greenhouse but it is a lot lower than a barn dryer. A large glass greenhouse costs something as 70.000 € and a barn dryer 250.000 €. The electricity used in on year with a greenhouse costs 360 € while a barn dryer with the same capacity uses 12.000 € for its ventilator and further 6.000 € if .there is a dehumidifier.
A greenhouse 16 m wide costs not so much as 2 greenhouses 8 m wide. There are 2 long walls which have not to be built.
==If the greenhouse has only one entrance. a big tractor cannot work in the corners. It is useful that the front façade and the rear façade wide can be opened, first the left half and then the right half. Those sliding doors will be covered with polycarbonate plates in order to be light whereas the rest of the greenhouse is in glass because glass is more ecological (no plastic waste). The only time when the farmer has to leave its tractor is when he must move the doors. To begin to work in the greenhouse, he goes in from the front face, goes out the back door and do it again along the outside of the greenhouse. He can harvest the grass with a loader wagon or a baler. In this case, he can strew the round bale with a shredder in the greenhouse. 2 hectares grass are put in a 16 m wide greenhouse (see later). It is a little work the farmer has to repeat twice a week during hole the good season but it is nevertheless 30 round bales to put in the greenhouse because 2 hectares produce 6.000 kg dry hay and the weight of one round bale is 200 kg..
If the dimensions of the glass greenhouse are 30 m long, 16 m wide, 5 m hgh, its volume is 2.400 m³ and we know that the weight of one m³ air is 1,2 kg at 20 °C, the weight of air in the greenhouse is 2880 kg.
For one m², it receives 5 kWh a day, but all that energy does not come in the greenhouse. Thermal solar panels have an efficiency of 40 %. We will suppose it is the same for the greenhouse.
5 kWh/m² * 40% * (5 m + 16 m) * 30 m = 1260 kWh
The greenhouse receives in one hour 1260 kWh * 861 kcal/kWh /8 hours = 135608 kcal/hour
But we know that 7 kcal and 8,5 gr water are absorbed by1 kg dry air
Thus, 1 kcal is absorbed by 1 / 7 kg dry air
135608 kcal/hour need 1 / 7 * 135608 kg dry air sec to be absorbed or 19372 kg dry air
1 kg dry air absorbs 8,5 gr water
19372 kg dry air absorb 19372 * 8,5 / 1.000 = 164,7 kg water
As the weight of the air in the greenhouse is 2880 kg, the air in the greenhouse will be removed 19372 / 2880 = 6,7 times per hour while the air absorbs 164,7 kg water. The greenhouse has a volume of 2.400 m³ renewed 6,7 times per hour. The propeller fan has a flow of 6,7 * 2.400 m³ = 16.000 m³ / hour
In one day we can extract : 164,7 kg * 8 hours = 1318 kg water or, 1318 kg water / 0,4 kg water/kg hay with 40 % humidity = 3300 kg hay / day.
4.000 kg hay / ha is a first not too early cut. If we make 4 cuts a year for barn drying, the grassland gives more : making now barn dryiing ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-QH_uLBPJc ), a farmer increased his harvest from 7 ton to 11 ton dry material, or 13 ton hay on one hectare. Thus, each of those 4 cuts produces 3.000 kg hay.
The dry hay on the ground weighs 30 kg/m³. If we put 2 hectares hay in the greenhouse, it is 2 * 3000 kg / (16 m * 30 m) / 30 kg/m³ = 0,4 m high. The hay is 40 cm high spread on hole the surface of the greenhouse. The tractor which works with a tedder in the greenhouse can easily ride on 40 cm hay.
We dry 2 * 3000 kg hay or a cut of two hectares in the greenhouse between 2 * 3000 / 3300 = 1,8 day when the grass had 40 % humidity. As 1,8 day is very short we should lay the grass in the greenhouse directly after the cut, without tedding in order to avoid leaf leaks and dry during 4 or 5 days. The annual quantity is twice smaller.
With a grass with 40 % humidity, we can make 2 dry process a week and the greenhouse is the busy 3,6 days a week. If we consider the bad weather periods, it is suitable. We then dry 4 hectare a week. May till September is 20 weeks. We can harvest in one greenhouse 4 ha/week * 20 weeks = 80 ha. But we make 4 cuts on the same grass-land. Thus, 1 greenhouse can annually dry 80 / 4 = 20 hectares a year.
With other words : 20 hectares produce 10.000 kg hay/hectare/year which are dry after 20 ha * 10000 kg hay/ha / 3300 kg/days drying = 60 days drying in one year in the greenhouse when the season is 140 days long..
The working approach with a greenhouse is different from a barn dryer. Presently, farmers work with large engines to harvest a large surface in one shot, when the weather is suitable during a long period. With my greenhouse dryer, you must make plenty of little harvests, but very often, because we are limited by the dimensions of the greenhouse. So, we will have a rich and very palatable hay. The only downside is that the hay is highly digestible and the fat percentage in the cow milk is lower. That hay is too rich for horses but we can cut the hay later to have a poorer hay.
Does the sun destroy the vitamins in the hay in the greenhouse ? . In a the 2 ares of the greenhouse we can put 100 ares of the meadow or 1 hectare. When the hay is entirely dryed on the grassland, the hay is 50 times more exposed under the sun than in the greenhouse. In the greenhouse, only the upper lay is in contact with the sunrays. There is no problem with the vitamins.
I use such a dryer, but very small, because I have only 6 ewes. The dimensions of the greenhouse are 4 m * 3 m, and I have to move the hay with my hands. I am very pleased with it. My only difficulty is to move the hay. This year (2019) I made hay the 10 May. The hay was dry after 4 days without using a tedder on the meadow. The hay was composed of much couch-grass. Outside we had 15 °C and 31 °C in the greenhouse. During 6 years I mad hay with that greenhouse, the dry process never failed.
You can see my greenhouse here :
You can see the propeller fan. The white engine above the fan is a dehumidifier De Longhi. It works with a heat pump. It absorbs ideally (at 30 °C) 25 liters water in 24 hours and has a power of 400 W. As to make 1 kg hay from grass at 40 % humidity 0,4 kg water must be extract, that means that to dry 4.000 kg hay, thus the cut of one hectare, we have to pay for the electricity :
25 liters / 24 hours * 0,4 kWh/liter water * 1.600 kg water to be extracted from 4.000 kg hay * 0,25 €/kWh = 166 € to dry one hectare with a cut of 4.000 kg dry hay. A dehumidifier is a good method to dry hay night and day, because it costs 4,15 €cent electricity/kg hay. It is not so much but if the farmer makes 10000 kg hay on 20 hectare each year, he will have to pay 8.300 €. In a Austrian farm of 30 hectares, the dehumidifier and the fan have, together, a power of 28 kW. The fan alone is 15 kW because it must cross 7 m hay, dry at the bottom but wet on the top.With a dehumidifier it is nevertheless more expensive than my greenhouse with two propeller fans with less power (360 € for 20 hectares). But let us talk energy : 25 liters / 24 hours * 0,4 kW is the same as using 0,39 kWh to extract 1 kg water. We find that in the documentation of large industrial barn dryers. 1.600 kg water * 10.000 kg hay/ha / 4.000 kg hay *0.39 kWh/kg water * 20 ha = 31.200 kWh annually used in the farm. In the Austrian farm, the ventilator has more or less the same power as the dehumidifier. We can conclude that 60.000 kWh are used on that farm annually. That is not ecologically very responsable. And we said that a dehumidifier is a reasonable solution. Think about dryer which are constructed at the present time and which use fuel ! We can compare those 60.000 kWh with the 1.440 kWh. needed by the greenhouse for the same volume hay.
We found this very interesting canadian document about the dehumidificers : https://www.agrinova.qc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Fiche_Sechage_foin_Agrinova_2oct2014.pdf We see in it a farm which dries 700 ton hay in one year with 165.000 kWh with a dryer which costed 1.000.000 $ and its dehumidifier has a power of 48 kW. If we count with the Belgian electricity price, it costs as energy 165.000 kWh * 0,25 €/kWh = 40.000 € each year. That dehumidifier extract 36 kg water / kW / day. 1 kWh can extract 36/24 = 1,5 kg water. Ideally, a dehumidifier extracts 25 kg water in 24 hours with a power of 0,4 kW, which means 25 / 24 / 0,4 = 2,6 kg water. We see the great difference between those 2,6 kg and the 1,5 kg water actually extracted.
That canadian document explains that there are compact forage parcels in a barn dryer where the air doesn't go through. As in a greenhouse, the hay is regularly returned, compact parcels cannot exist.
With grass at 40 % humidity, 1.000 kg hay give 400 kg water and as to extract 25 kg water during 24 heures we need a power of 0,4 kW, we use 9,6 kWh, or 9,6 / 25 = 0,384 kWh / kg water. So, 1 ton hay requests 400 * 0.384 = 153 kWh.
It is funny to note that the little home dehumidifiers have het same performance as the big industrial dehumidifiers : 25 liter water extracted between 24 hours with a power of 400 W.
Those figures are valid when the conditions are ideal : temperature 30 °C and humidity 70 %. A factory gives the absorption capacity for different tempeératures, for a dehumidifier of 20 kW :
30 °C 60 % humidity 760 kg captured in 24 hours.
27 °C 60 % humidity 680 kg captured in 24 hours.
20 °C 60 % humidity 501 kg captured in 24 hours.
We see that, if the temperature is lower than 30 °C, the dehumidifier is less efficient. We must know that, if the temperature goes above 32 °C, the dehumidifier stops working because the air temperature is higher than the plate delivering the heath. The heath goes from a warm surface to a cold surface, not the contrary. If the humidity of the air decreases under 40 %, the dehumidifier no longer will work correctly. At the end of the dry process, drying will cost a lot more.
If a 20 kW dehumidifier is working in ideal conditions, it must can extract in 24 hours : 25 kg water / 0,4 kWh/kg eau * 20 kW = 1.282 kg water. However, we see that the best performance is 760 kg water. We see there is a great difference.
Let us still dream about dehumidifiers. Suppose a farmer installs several dehumidifiers in a barn completely closed and thermical insulated to keep night and day a temperature between 25 et 30 °C. This room can be first warmed up till 25 °C so that the dehumidifier has then its most efficiency. It must not exceed 30 °C because the warm panel of the heat pump cannot yet deliver its heat to the air of the room which has to refresh it. For 4.000 kg dry hay, 1.600 kg water have to be extracted, during 3 days, night and day, or 500 kg water in on day. As the dehumidifiers extract 25 kg a day, 20 dehumidifier for one hectare are necessay and 60 for 3 hectares. My own dehumidifier costs included VAT 400 € for one piece from a dealer. Exclusive VAT and for many pieces, it cost no more than 250 €, or 15.000 € for 60 dehumidifiers while I read in the farmer press that a dehumidifier for a little farm costs minimum 65.000 € . Where is the mistake ?
Farmers who likes a dehumidifier have to keep in mind that electricity price increases very much when the grass is very wet.We can calculate it :
This are some rates of humidity in grass and the corresponding wheight of water each time for 1 kg dry matter, and the price of electricity for one hectare in a year when 40 % costs 400 € for on hectare, as explained above :
16 % wet : 0,19 kg water 1 kg dry matter price 1 ha
20 0.25 151 €
30 0,43 260
40 0,66 400
50 1 606
60 1,5 909
70 2,33 1.412
80 4 2..424
90 9 5.454
If the grass is cut without any tedding, it contains 80 % humidity and using a dehumidifier costs 2.424 € for one hectare in a year.
If the farmer harvests 30 ha such grass, it costs 72.720 €. It is absolutely uneconomic.
If it rained on the grass, it costs then 5.454 € for one hectare during one year.
We explained that a greenhouse of 7 * 30 meter can extract 512 kg water a sunny day. A dehumidifier with a heat pump extracts 25 kg water a day with an electric power of 0,4 kW. To extract 512 kg water between 24 hours, it needs as power 512 / 25 * 0,4 = 8 kW. The Austrian farm had a dehumidifier of about 13 kW. Thus, 1,6 greenhouses extracts the same as a dehumidifier of 13 kW which is in service in a 28 hectare farm.
Another example found on the internet : a farmer dries 142 ton in 3 cells of 300 m³ each. Together, those cells have a volume of 900 m³. Those cells are 7 m high. The surface of the cells is 128 m². That farmer puts 3 hectares with 3.000 kg hay in 2 cells with a surface of 86 m². The density hay is 3 * 3.000 / 86 = 100 kg/m³. If the total surface of the dryer (128 m²) is used, the weigtht of stored hay is 128 m² * 1 m high * 100 kg/m³ = 12.800 kg. We said that we must extract 0,4 kg water / kg hay if the hay has 40 % humidity. In that barn dryer we must extract 12.800 kg hay * 0,4 kg water/kg hay = 5.120 kg water. If that farm has a dehumidifier, we need 0,39 kWh to extract 1 kg water. To extract 5.120 kg water, we need 5.120 kg water * 0,39 = 2.000 kWh. If the power of the dehumidifier is 15 kW, in 24 hours it needs 15 * 24 = 360 kWh/day, because a dehumidifier is working 24 hours a day, instead of a greenhouse which is working 8 hours a day, only during the day. The barn dryer needs 2.000 kWh / 360 kWh/day = 5,5 days to dry. We know that 2 greenhouses dry in 1,5 day --> 2 greenhouses * 2.500 kg hay placed as windrows in the greenhouse = 5.000 kg hay. In 5,5 days, those 2 greenhouses dry 5.000 kg hay * 5,5 / 1,5 = 18.500 kg hay. Two greenhouses of 30 m * 7 have a greater efficiency than a dryer with dehumidifier of 15 kW because we saw it dries only 12.800 kg.in the same delay. However, we must compare similar things because a dehumidifier is permanently working , night and day, instead of the greenhouse working only during the day when there is sun..If I made this comparison, it is to demonstrate that the the greenhouses are very efficient, contrary to what is often assumed, and not only used by hobby farmers.
With the greenhouse, the grass may be wet : the dry process has only to be prolonged one or two days. The sun is free. I already had that case with my greenhouse of 3 meters on 4. It rained on the grass just after I cut it but with the greenhouse it was dry without any problem..
The harvest on the grass-land is easier with a greenhouse than with a deshumidifier because the dehumidifier must start with a hay at 40 % wet, 2 days tedding, while we can put hay in the greenhouse which stayed on the grass-land not so long. The hay is earlier save against the rain and will dry in the greenhouse instead of on the grass-land. So, we have more time to harvest and we can do it more relaxed.
A dryer with a greenhouse is more or less similar to a dryer where the air is heated under the roof of the barn. However, the greenhouse warms up more quickly when there is a a rift in the sky because with a barn, the sun must first warm up the roof..
In its magazine of september 2019, the magazine Wallonie Elevages talks about the Inno4Grass Awards. One of the laureate is a german farmer which has a barn dryer and who says "During May, the electricity increased with 8.000 €. We hope to limit the cost of hay barn drying at 10 cents per liter, which is an amount often published." That farm has 200 hectares grassland and 180 milk cows giving 800.000 liters. With 10 cents per liter, its costs yearly : 800.000 liters *0,1 € = 80.000 € yearly. If he would dry with 5 greenhouses of 30 * 16 * 5 m and propeller fan receiving the electricity from solar panels placed near the greenhouse, it costs then 0 €. Those german farmers will live poor and die rich because they are above those 10 cents.
Presently, the milk is payed 0,37 € / kg. Farmers say it is absolutely not sufficient. And if 10 cents are needed for the barn dryer, the actual price of the milk is 0,27 € ...
With such a big farm, the cows may not yet go to the grassland : one farmer cannot guide a herd with 180 cows. Other reasons therefore : if the farmer has an installation for biomethanization (cost : 2 millions de euros), the cow have to stay in the stable in order to keep their slurrys. With a milking robot, the cows have to stay near it, thus in the stable.
And when all those farmers will be pensioned , who iis the young people who can afford such expensive farms ? Perhaps investment funds but if the price of the milk stay low, they will not be interested.
Machine-intensive agriculture which is presently promoted is possible thanks to cheap energy. But we don't know till when that model of agriculture will exist.
It makes us think : what kind of agriculture do we want, what kind of society do we want ? A society with one farmer for 1.000 cows. A society where very few people have work and the others are homeless. I prefer this little breton farmer who has 8 very small breton cows on 7 hectares who has no financial worries and no debt and he and his family are entirely happy :
In a documentary film on the television, the RTBF says that in Belgium , during 2017, 40 % farmers earn less than 1.000 € a month. How much a very little farmer can earn ? Let us take a farmer with 10 Belgian Blue dual purpose cows. That cattle gives meat and milk. The calves are of good conformation. Their sales can cover the cost of that farm. Those cows give 4.000 liters milk a year while a Holstein cow gives 8.000 liters. That farmer can make direct selling because his production is limited. If he receives 0,75 € / liter, with other words 7,5 € / kg hard cheese, what is very few, his ten cows give him 10 cows * 4.000 liters * 0,75 €/liter = 30.000 €/year. In one month, he has 2.500 €.. It is more better than the 1.000 € of the RTBF.
It demonstrate in which gridlock the political leaders of the European Union and the banks are leading us. It is a headlong rush to become bigger and bigger in order to collect more incentives, because those incentives are payed per hectare.
A "normal" farmer will think a cow giving 8.000 liters milk in one year earns twice more than a cow of 4.000 liters. That is note right. Both earn more or less the same per hectare because, which is important is the food quantity given by the grassland. A cow which gives less milk has to eat less, we see it in the food tables. We can keep more cows on the same hectare when they gives less milk. That means that the milk quantity on one hectare is more or les the same as with specialised breeds. Dual purpose cows give more calves with better quality. Finally, the income is more or les the same with the two breeds, but the farmer has to look after more dual purpose cows, but cows which can be easilier feeded.
You will say I am very "Martine on the farm" and you are right, but I like it better than a concentration camp for cows.
Hay milk : delicious !