Cliff, one of our long time readers, sent me the photo above and the following email.
“Just a heads up on something I see coming in the future in the straw bale world. Small round bales. Lots of reasons. There are a lot of lifestyle or small farmers who can’t afford or need the big expensive bales. These smaller balers are much cheaper to buy and operate. The bales are much more weather resistant than square bales. Here in NZ they can fit down a row of vines in a vineyard. Any other baler can’t go there. I think we may see some innovation in the straw bale building world. You use what is available and as these become more available people will adapt to using them.”
Owen: Farmers have been shifting to round bales for years, you’re right. However, I hadn’t seen these little bales yet. Trouble is these round bales would easily topple over without some sort of support. This is easily demonstrated with toy blocks. The rectangular blocks will lay flat, overlap each other like bricks and make stable walls. The cylindrical blocks will topple over.
One option is to feed the round bales into a baler that makes rectangular bales. Adjust the machinery to make tightly compacted bales of uniform length. Use heavy duty poly twine. These could be sold as a sideline business if you live where building with bales is popular. Yes, it’s an extra step, but people are willing to pay extra for high quality ‘builder quality’ bales that are not rain damaged.
Strawbale is so popular in parts of the world – the US and UK for example – that building officials routinely approve SB houses without second thought. That’s what we’re going to use for the Wiki Natural House (which is moving along nicely).
Image source: Small Farm Innovations.com