A conditioner (or hay conditioner) is an agricultural machine that crimps and crushes newly cut hay to promote faster and more even drying. Drying the hay efficiently is most important for first crop hay, which consists of coarse stalks that take a longer period of time to draw out moisture than finer textured hays, such as second crop cuttings.
A conditioner is made up of two grooves rollers which the hay is forced through causing the stalks to split, thus giving more surface area for moisture to escape. The stand-alone conditioner is now an obsolete piece of machinery since it has been incorporated into both haybines and mower-conditioners.
Mower-conditioners, MoCo's in casual conversation, are a staple of large-scale haying. Mower-conditioners are defined by the mechanisms that accomplish mowing and conditioning.
There are three types of mowers; sickle bar mowers, disc mowers, and drum mower. Sickle bar mowers use a reciprocating knife to cut the grass and typically use a reel to fold the grass over the knife. Disc mowers have a number of hubs across the cutting width, each hub having a small (18") rotating disc with knives. Drum mowers use two or three large plates (called the drums, about 36" across) which ride over the ground as they are spinning. A sickle bar mower's main advantage over disc mower and drum mower is the reduced horsepower requirements. Its disadvantage is the extra maintenance required due to the high number of moving parts and wear items. Disc mowers were historically considered an "all the eggs in one basket" kind of mower because all the mower hubs were one large gearbox. If one blade hit something and a gear tooth broke the whole gearbox would suffer a catastrophic failure and there would be nothing worth fixing. If anything broke, everything broke. Drum mowers prevented this by having typically two belt-driven drums compared to 6 or more gear-driven hubs. Modern disc mowers use isolated gearboxes and if one fails it can be swapped out without rebuilding the entire machine.
Conditioners come in three main types: rubber-roller conditioners, steel-roller, and flail. The roller conditioners consist of two opposing rolls that have a raised, interlocking chevron pattern. The rollers have either a rubber or steel chevron pattern and a steel main shaft. The crop is crimped between the rollers, decreasing the drying time. The flail conditioner is an arrangement of steel V's on a main shaft that beat the crop against the top of the mower-conditioner. The flail conditioner reduces drying time by removing the waxy coating on the crop.
Haybine is the brand name of the first mower-conditioner. It combined the sickle bar mower and the hay conditioner to promote faster drying hay all in one process. The current versions produced by New Holland are branded the Discbine, since they now feature faster disc mowers.
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (February 2007)|