Innovations

UN Sustainable Development Goal

15
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  • Beau Daane
    Beau Daane I love how this innovation addresses the needs of an often forgotten smaller scale market, that of small farmers in China (and potentially beyond). This is a scalable innovation and one worthy of consideration.
    April 18
  • Andrew Himes
    Andrew Himes I agree with Beau's assessment. However, the story could be improved by interviewing one or more farmers who are actually using this innovation.
    April 18

No Burning Through Hay Baler

Date published: 18 Apr 2017
Nantong, Jiangsu, China     0 likes   2

Overview

The way that farmers treat crop straws is quite simple: just burn them. Although the ash generated by burning of crop straws could enhance soil fertility to certain degree, the associated air and water pollution are harmful. Based on this background, Mr. Zhou Zhang, the founder of Nantong Feiben Machinery Co., Ltd located in Jiangsu province, China, designed a hay baler that meets these requirement and suitable for Chinese farmers. It is a good practice of recycling economics and greatly promotes the sustainable development of society and the environment.  

The innovation addresses the needs of small scale farmers in China and beyond. This group of farmers may often be overlooked due to the smaller scale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          

innovation photo

Innovation

The working mechanism of the hay baler that designed by Mr. Zhang is quite similar to the conventional one except for few differences. First of all, the ultimate product is actually, but not fully compacted rolled bales. Instead, hays are loosely packed in small rolls. This is the distinguished feature from other balers. Secondly, the equipment is easy to operate, which makes it quite convenient and easy for family use. Finally, the mechanical structure of the device is simple, which makes it can be readily repaired and fixed when it runs into problems.

Overall impact

This hay baler can better solve the long-standing environmental problems associated with burning crop straws in China, which in turn could significantly reduce the environmental burden. In addition, instead of being treated as trash and useless materials, hay can be made into hay crafts, fertilizer, or simply used as fuel in industry, which could increase farmers’ incomes.

Inspiration

China is an agriculture-orientated country and has thousands years of history in agriculture. Unlike the western world which is based mostly on industry, most agricultural methods were developed hundreds years ago and inherited by the generations afterwards. Although some of them were quite smart, most of them are extremely inefficient and bring lots of environmental concerns. Mr. Zhang said that “The way that farmers treat crop straw is quite simple: just burn them. Although the ash generated by burning of crop straws could enhance soil fertility to certain degree, the associated air and water pollution can not be overlooked. Since rice and wheat are the main agriculture products in south China, this is indeed one of major pollution sources for these areas. The government issues several regulations trying to change the situation, but simply banning the burning is not feasible in current situation and what the Chinese farmers really need is an efficient machine to take the place of burning”.

Also, importing the hay baler from western countries could not solve the problem in China. Mr. Zhang said that “Unlike the US where each family owns a few acres of farming land, the total land size owned in China by each family is quite small and they are usually separately located in different locations, making the usage of large agricultural equipment unfeasible. It severely limits the usage of large equipment in agriculture industry. Therefore, most places need specialized solutions for agricultural problems”.

Moreover, he said that “As the labor is decreasing in China, an effective machine can help solve the problem of labor shortage in the following 15 years”. As inspired by these, Mr. Zhang used his knowledge in engineering and designed the hay baler that could be used by a family to better solve this long-standing problem in agriculture.

Business benefit

As mentioned above, crop straw could be transformed into many useful products, such as hay crafts, ropes, organic fertilizer, and paper and feed industry (to make animal food, such as cow). These potential economic benefits make the hay baler become a very promising and attractive equipment. More significantly, since the population in agriculture is decreasing, the machine developed here could reduce the labor cost in the countryside. Similarly, the small size and light weight of hay rolls by the machine makes the further processing task easy without special transport and moving equipment.

Social and environmental benefit

This hay baler can significantly reduce air pollution caused by burning and promote the recycling of crop straws. In the short run, it increases the quality of people’s living environment and reduces the diseases caused by polluted environment. According to the statistics that issued by the Chinese government Death Monitoring System, 200 million people died because of respiratory diseases (Baidu, 2014). Therefore, as the hay baler could potentially reduce air pollution, this piece of equipment could save millions of medical cost for the society in the long run. It is a good practice of recycling economics and greatly promotes the sustainable development of society and the environment.  

Interview(s)

Zhou Zhang, Founder of Nantong Feiben Machinery Co., Ltd

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2 comments
  • Beau Daane
    Beau Daane I love how this innovation addresses the needs of an often forgotten smaller scale market, that of small farmers in China (and potentially beyond). This is a scalable innovation and one worthy of consideration.
    April 18
  • Andrew Himes
    Andrew Himes I agree with Beau's assessment. However, the story could be improved by interviewing one or more farmers who are actually using this innovation.
    April 18