Paul, one of our readers, left a comment that said “Filling and placing bags [by hand] when you only have a few hundred or a couple of thousand may work best, but if you are creating a large earthbag building that would require thousands of bags or thousands of feet of tubing definitely requires some level of mechanization to be efficient. I like the Bobcat attachment, it could be very useful.”
Owen: I agree. Some sort of mechanization is highly desirable, especially on large jobs or where you’re building for profit. The machines that have been built so far are for filling sandbags for flood control, not for earthbag building. Most or possibly all of these machines would jam up when using moist fill material such as road base or subsoil. Filling tubes with a machine could go quite fast as I suggested in a previous post about the SandMaster.
I heard Cal-earth has experimented with a concrete pumper with a long boom (boom pump). The truck is stationary and the boom is swung around as the tubes are filled. A tube on the end of the boom directs material into the earthbag tubes. This would be a good way to deliver stabilized fill material such as cement stabilized crusher fines. The cost of the pumper would be offset by reduced labor. Use rapid set cement so work could continue unabated. This would make the most sense in areas with high labor costs where boom pumps/concrete pumps are available.
Another option to reduce labor and speed construction is with a crane and banana bucket. The bucket is filled on the ground and then raised into position. The curved shape helps funnel material into the tubes. This may be less expensive than using a concrete pump, although it would not be as fast.