Grain bags: Rolling and recycling

Waste agricultural plastic, including grain bags, is attracting the evil eye of media outlets and the public.

It’s easy to criticize massive piles of useless, used plastic.

That’s why farmers and industry must jointly find a solution to the problem, a public relations dilemma and an environmental issue, says Rob Wierenga.

The co-owner of Neeralta in Barrhead, Alta., says it should not be viewed as an insurmountable problem.

“There are facilities for recycling grain bags and other ag plastics, but we believe that the logistics are currently holding everything back,” says Wierenga.

“A better system is needed for the collection and transport of ag plastics. At least four or five collection facilities should be located close to major highways throughout each province so plastic can be collected and easily shipped in bulk to the recycling facility.”

Wierenga says his Nerralta extractor helps solve the problem by rolling up the empty bag while the grain is being extracted, all in a single, simultaneous process. Once the grain bag is empty, the plastic roll is ready for the recycler.

The $56,900 price tag on the extractor includes the grain bag roller and four-way swivel spout. There’s no need to buy a separate grain bag extractor that empties only 12-foot-diameter bags because the Neeralta has optional augers for 12-foot diameter bags.

Neeralta has solved the bag wrapping problem by incorporating the wrap roller into the basic design of their extractor. The bagger lists for $52,900 and the extractor lists for $56,900 including the wrapper. | Neeralta photo

There are numerous manufacturers building grain bag rolling machines. Here are the most common on the Prairies:

Brown Brothers started manufacturing their bag baler six years ago. It can be powered by a tractor, a 13 horsepower Honda, or mounted on a skid steer loader. The baler handles 10-foot-diameter bags up to 300 feet in length. Jason Brown says they have sold about 120 units to date. Depending on power source, the Brown Brothers bag baler sells for C$8,500 to $8,900.

The Brown Brothers baler handles ten-foot diameter bags up to 300 feet in length. The trailer unit sells for $8,500 to $8,900 depending on power source. | Brown Brothers photo

DuoLift bag rollers are handled by GBC Distributors in Humboldt, Sask. GBC had previously sold bag wrappers employing a single hydraulic cylinder to push the wound bale off the spike. However, the single cylinder idea left a lot to be desired, so they switched to the twin cylinder DuoLift. It uses a two-lever open centre control valve requiring one hydraulic outlet. It handles 10-foot-diameter bags up to 300 feet long, rolling them into a 36-inch by 48-inch diameter bale.

The DUO-LIFT roller attaches to both skidsteer and ALO loader mounts. Hydraulic drive gives the operator even flow and speed control. The roller can comfortably handle 10 feet wide by 300 feet long bags. It lists at $8,595 with the skidsteer mount. | GBC photo

Kirchner Machine in Lethbridge builds bag balers capable of winding 250-foot grain bags into a tight 300-pound bale. Dwayne Kirchner says wrapping longer bags into a single bale results in a loose sloppy bale. He advises farmers to cut longer bags into two smaller bales that are tighter and easier to handle. Kirchner’s three-point hitch baler sells for $5,350. The tractor model sells for $6,435. The self-contained pull-type with a Chinese-built 13 h.p. gas engine sells for $9,250. A Honda 13 h.p. engine is available for an extra cost, but he says it’s not worth spending the extra money because most farmer-owned bag balers only run three or four hours per year. If a PT baler will be used for custom baling, the Honda is a worthwhile upgrade.

Kirchner Machine’s bag roller uses a 24 cubic inch hydraulic motor, which demands more than a small yard tractor to wind up a 250 foot bag. Dwayne Kirchner says the pull-type is the most popular model. | Barb Glen photo

Loftness introduced their new bag baler in April. The unit attaches directly to their GBU10 extractor so it rolls the empty bag up as the extractor pulls grain out. This eliminates the hassle of dealing with trying to roll empty bags on frozen snow and ice. It handles nine- and 10-foot diameter bags up to 300 feet in length. The hydraulic motor uses a two-lever control and requires one hydraulic circuit. The bag baler lists for US$7,588.

The Loftness bag baler, introduced two months ago, attaches to the GBU10 extractor so the operator can wrap the bag as the grain is removed. This saves the hassle of going back later to dig frozen bags out of the snow and try baling them. | Loftness photo

Pro Grain bag balers are built by Arc Alloy Welding in Colonsay, Sask. To simplify the chore, Arc Alloy suggests farmers cut long bags into two shorter pieces. The wrapper for the small unloader is C$4,000 and it handles 125 feet of bag. The wrapper for larger collapsible unit is $6,000 and it handles 250 feet.

The Arc Alloy Welding Pro Grain R3 handles bags up to 250 feet long. It requires six g.p.m. at 2,000 p.s.i. | Arc Alloy Welding photo

RENN uses what it calls Onboard Recycle-Ready Plastic Management. The company’s hydraulic ratchet system winds the empty bag onto rear rewind spools, keeping the plastic clean for recycling. Once the bag is completely empty, it’s rewound into a recycle-ready package, which slides easily off the rewind spool. The RGU 1218 CD Grain Bag Unloader has been designed to carry and process an entire 12 x 500 foot grain bag in one piece.

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