Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE03-478
The goal of this project was to construct a tool which could be used to reduce time, labor, and storage requirements in harvesting small rectangular hay bales. Dick designed the hay lifter and had it fabricated at a local steel fabrication company. Modifications of the original design were made to the lifter before taking it to the field for testing.
Upon testing in the field, the hay-lifter easily moved pallets of hay out of the field and backed them into a shed, taking about half the time that Dick would normally spend on the same operation with hay wagons. Dick calculated that adding a hay-lifter to mechanized harvest would save about six hours of farmer time per 500 bales of harvested hay. He feels that some value should also be assigned to the reduced risk of weather damage afforded by speedier transport out of the field and to better-quality storage. Dick believes the system is still slower than moving round bales, but it is also more flexible.
Dick created spreadsheets that compare six scenarios of moving hay and made scaled drawings of the hay-lifter for other farmers to examine. He also presented the system at a NOFA summer conference and has discussed the system with farmers on an informal basis.