Down the ages hay making hay as become a very precise process, with hay makers working to get their hay harvest done and bales out of the field before unfavourable conditions arrive. In some regions harvest occurs at a time of year where the weather is invariably dry and air is low humidity.
However, should unseasonal conditions occur and hay making is difficult due to wet weather during the harvest window, it can cause major problems. Some hay making regions also have regular rain events during the harvest, e.g. subtropical areas which require changed management of the process.
If the weather is cloudy, or high humidity exists, the whole process slows down resulting in bleaching, degradation of the hay, and growth of moulds can commence.
This results in low quality, or mouldy hay which is worth much less in price, or may be unsaleable.
In recent years, changes in technology, improvements in machinery such as the availability of conditioners etc have given hay producers and contractors more flexibility.
However, in recent years in Australia, there have been many situations where inclement weather during the harvest period has made it extremely difficult to make quality hay using standard hay making methods.
In addition to this, drought conditions during the crop growing season may result in crop failures, and the only choice may be to make hay. These “failed crops” are extremely hard to dry down due to stems with nodes and cereals with seed heads in the boot.
Hay preservatives have been available for many years. The original preservatives were chemical based, salts or acids.
More recently, technological advances and research has shown that hay producers can use bacterial hay inoculants to allow them to make hay under less than ideal conditions, at moisture levels up to 25% moisture.