In most hay-growing regions, growers have a tough time getting the crop dry enough for problem-free storage in big square bales.

Barn drying may be the answer, says Philippe Savoie, an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada engineer at Laval University in Quebec City.

"Drying it down to 25% is fairly straightforward. The main problem is near the end when we’re trying to dry it to 15% or even 12% for the commercial hay market."

He’s researching the feasibility of removing the last few points of moisture with a forced-air fan. He visualizes a single layer of bales laid on a large drying floor.

"The idea would be to dry quickly – 24 hours or 48 at the most," says Savoie.

He’s working with a lab-sized dryer and plans to test a bigger model in summer 2002.