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hay drying

Hay drying

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Hay drying is topical again! The biological farmer Mr. Gahleitner in the Mühlviertel uses the advantages of the solar hay drying of CONA now for several years.

The drying of food for animals, hay is especially important because they are decomposed otherwise by micro-organisms (bacteria, mushrooms) and enzymes.

The dehydration should happen very poor in loss and carefully, so that the valuable ingredients of the dry hay are preserved.

Cona offers a very energysaving hay drying system. Save about 85% to usual hay drying systems!!!

Please contact us and we send you more information about it.

Advantages of drying hay with solar drying plants from Cona

In times of low milk prices and high electricity prices, it is particularly important to produce high-quality, cost-efficient and energy-saving fodder hay in order to minimize the farmer´s prime costs. CONA® headquartered in Upper Austria, has therefore set itself the goal of revolutionizing hay drying from the ground up. In doing so, it is leaving behind conservative conventional hay technology, taking up proven ideas, but trending new, more efficient and above all more sustainable paths in order to use only a fraction of the energy required to achieve the above-mentioned hay quality. Therefore, when it comes to power consumption, not only sustainable but also business aspects are considered!

When using highly efficient (700 Watt/m2) ISO-certified and therefore elegible CONA-Solar-Air-Collectors©, with tempered glass cover and efficient absorber, these far outperform conventional roof extractors (no matter what type), specially in changeable weather conditions. It is this almost all-weather suitability of the CONA Solar Air Collector© that enables the farmer to be confident of a good end result.

The wilted forage can be brought in after 1-2 days without any loss of crumb and the further drying can be done either in the hayloft with a conventional hay fan, or even more efficiently in a CONA-Drying Box© or with a CONA-Round Bale Dryer© with solar heated ventilation. The intelligent CONA control system “CONA-Touch©” is used here, which primarily makes optimum use of daytime operation, but also ensures harvesting during nighttime operation and prepares the hay for the continuation of the drying process the next day.

Hay drying technology for loose hay - drying in the hayloft:

Cona offers 2 variants for drying loose hay:

  • Integration of solar process heat into conventional hay ventilation for hayloft. Hayloft = drying + storange
  • CONA drying system consisting of solar process heat and energy-efficient ventilation technology using flat floor instead of hayloft. Hayloft = drying + storage separated

1) Provision of solar process heat by the highly efficient and eligible CONA solar air collector.

The use of the patented and certified CONA solar air collectors is specially optimized for energy-saing and highly efficient drying processes, which are convining even in changeable weather conditions! Innovative futrue technology beats already today conservative conventional hay technology.

Cold ventilation, inefficient roof extraction, warm air production by resource-intensive biomass combustion and additionally high efficiency loss via the heat exchanger or even the use of electricity-intensive dehumidification can be replaced by the innovative CONA system. The sun heats air in the CONA solar air collector free of charge and thus exponentially increases the water absorption capacity of the air. (Info: warm air can absorb more moisture until saturared) After mixing the extremely dry air in the mixing center, dry warm air is blown into the hayloft, the hay box, in a controlled manner using existing ventilation technology (hay radial fan) at less than 40°C.

The CONA solar air collectors provide the process heat here, saving an average of 48% of the energy costs!

2) CONA heat drying system:

The combination of solar process heat from the highly efficient CONA solar air collectors and the CONA neutral drying technology makes the solution particularly economic, ecologic and, above all, good drying results. Specially in this section, the smart technology beats time-honored drying myths.

Whoever has some space next to the hay store can dry the hay in a CONA hay drying box with patented aeration floor (>500 gills/m2) and sophisticated air cushion process (controlled outflow) instead of conventional hay blowers with high pressure build-up (5m hay loft) in an energy-saving, gentle and uniform way (without chimney formation).

With a bulk height of 1.5 – 2.5m per drying batch, energy saving fans are used, which are interconnected in such a way that drying can be carried out highly efficiently with a fraction of the electricity required by conventional ventilation technology.

This combination of CONA solar air collectors and CONA haybox drying saves up to 85% electricity compared to conventional drying systems, making it the most energy-efficient form of active hay drying currently available.

Advantage: The drying can be used for different goods and the hay storage can be built 6 – 8m high.

The future technology that changes our present!

Hay drying is more typical than ever – because organic farming and the production of regional dairy products today require high-quality production chain of green forage from the plant to the forage hay. Special attention must be paid to the preservation of energy and nutrients in order to optimize milk yield. The latest finding from cattle feed research show that with the same milk yield, but longer life expectancy and lower veterinary costs, in contrast to silage feeding, concentrated feed can be largely dispensed with in the case of aerated hay.

Practical examples can be found further below in this page within the reference section.
Jump to reference section

The water extraction should be done as low-loss and gentle as possible, so that the valuable ingredients of the dried hay are preserved.

Grassland forage does not dry evenly. Stalks and stems dry more slowly, whereas the nutrient-rich ears, herbs and leaves dry faster. The more often this hay is turned and the longer it remains in the meadow, the more of the valuable portion crumbles away and is irretrievably lost.

With solar drying of hay, on the other hand, the wilted forage can be brought in after only 1-2 days. The further drying takes place in the different drying variants of solar heated ventilation from CONA. This type of hay drying is economic, ecologic, efficient and very gentle on the hay and its forage quality.

The highly efficient (700 Watt/m2) CONA solar air collectors, with tempered glass cover and efficient absorber, are ISO certified and therefore eligible for subsidies. Especially in changeable weather conditions, they outperform conventional roof extractors (no matter what type) by far. It is this almost all-weather suitability of the CONA solar air collector that enables the farmer to be confident of a good end result. Because when roof extractors have long since ceased to supply energy, CONA’s solar air technology still produces very good drying results. The investment is worthwhile here in any case.

Although CONA’s own “CONA-Touch” control system makes optimum use of daytime operation and secures the hay in nighttime operation by means of interval ventilation and optimally prepares it for drying the next day, a combination with a CONA stone storage tank can ensure that drying also continues at night.

Another advantage of hay drying with solar and stone storage is that a hay harvest can also take place towards the end of a fair weather period, after the sun has charged the stone storage during the wilting phase. When the hay has to be brought in because the weather changes, the hay is simply dried further at home using stored solar energy from the stone storage tank. A comprehensive and very ecologic and at the same time economic hay drying without the use of disproportionately more energy (for example: dehumidification).

CONA solar air systems can be combined very well with most professional hay ventilation systems, solar and stone storage. CONA project planners take into account existing infrastructures and do not exclude any reasonable existing system.

The solar air collector CCS+ from CONA has also been solar Keymark tested and certified according to DIN EN ISO 9806 since 2015.

Therefore, very good subsidy rates of up to 50% result for the entire drying system.

Find out about the funding conditions: Opens external link in new windowProcess heat funding from BAFA. CONA collector is in page 11.
Many of our German customers were able to realize generous projects by means of this BAFA process heat promotion.

In Austria there are good subsidy rates via the Kommunalkredit (KPC).Opens external link in new window More information

For questions about the eligibility of the CONA soalr air collector or the CONA solar drying system, please contact your local subsidy advisor (e.g. bank advisor), who knows best about the local subsidy possibilities. Of course, we are also happy to assist you in the regard.

Initiates file downloadNewspaper article about the Gahleitner’s farm solar hay drying


Gut Kasensee in Glonn with the Mainzl family

Investments were made here in a very large hay drying facility with a drying volume of around 800 round bales.

360m² solar surface with a peak thermal output of approx. 260kW.

In addition, a storage of 5000kWh.

And several different drying surfaces.

If you are interested, you can also contact Mr. Mainzl.

Solar hay drying at Ueli Steinegger in Switzerland

An existing hay dryer that was ventilated with cold air was expanded with a CONA solar air system for more efficient drying.

Before that, Mr. Steinegger often dried or aerated his hay for weeks until it was more or less dry. (See photo of the haystack before hot air drying) Since the warm ventilation by the efficient CONA solar field, the hay is ready in a few days.

Previously, the hay had to be dried in the sun for longer, which led to many losses. Now the hay can be brought in after 1-2 days and the beautifully preserved color on the photo with the new hay stick shows the success.

Mr. Steinegger says himself: “The investment in the CONA system was the best I have ever made on my farm. I was promised savings of 48% and in fact I save 60% on energy costs year after year. The cows are eating now clearly prefer the freshly dried hay and are accordingly well nourished and healthy! I can warmly recommend the system to every hay farmer – better today than tomorrow!”

You are also welcome to take a look at the system at Mr. Steinegger’s.

Please make an appointment by phone in advance.

Ueli Steinegger – Talstrasse 69 – CH – 8852 Altendorf

+417644 29933

Frequently asked questions about our solar hay drying plants

The duration of the drying process depends on 3 important factors:

dimension of the drying plant and solar collectors
weather and sunny days
water content of wood chips at the beginning
Our experience shows that under good weather conditions during summer time the drying process takes about 1 – 2 weeks and 3 – 6 weeks in spring and autumn.

The solar collector is integrated into the roof. It’s best to place the collectors on the southern side but it can be also placed slightly western. One drying chamber needs to be 5,5 – 6m long and width depends on the needed capacity. A drying chamber that bears a capacity of 60 bulk cubic metres needs a width of 7,5m.

The main part of the needed energy is produced by solar radiation. The ventilators need about 2 – 4 kWh/BCM.

The drying process takes place in 10 – 20 charges per year. So there is a need of a separate storehouse for the dry wood chips.

The wood chips are distributed evenly on the sloping grating and less pressure is built. So it is possible to use very energy saving ventilators. It’s also easier processing the wood chips on the grating.

After planning the drying plant together with our customer the installation can be done in a few days depending on the roof.

It is possible to do a lot of things under your own auspices. The gratings can be installed totally on your own. But installing the collectors should be done under investigation of our employees to guarantee a smooth running of the drying plant.

The sloping gratings can also be used with other sources of energy and in combination with solar energy and another one.

Do you plan to get a solar drying plant?

We’d love to discuss your project and its requirements – contact us now to see if we can provide the best solution for your needs!

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