Hay an incredibly valuable crop, yet some producers lose as much as a fourth of their crop from improperly storing it. To help, a new decision aid for comparing the costs of different hay storage options is now available on Iowa State University extension’s Ag Decision Maker (ADM) Web site.

This free electronic spreadsheet can compare up to eight alternatives at a time, says William Edwards, ISU extension economist. “The standard for comparison is storing bales on bare ground with no cover. This is the least cost method, but also results in the most storage loss. Other methods include outdoor uncovered storage on gravel or pallets, outdoor covered storage, storage under a roof, and storage in a new or existing building.”

Several types of cost are considered in the analysis. Initial investments in storage structure, tarps, gravel and pallets are amortized over their individual expected lives. Annual costs such as repairs, insurance and property taxes are part of the spreadsheet, as are estimated labor costs for storing and feeding the hay. And, the estimated value of spoilage losses under each system is considered.

“Users will need to enter the expected volume of hay to be produced or that’s needed, current hay prices and the size of bales they use,” Edwards says. “For each method, a total annual cost is calculated, which includes spoilage losses and the tons of hay available to feed or sell.”

Source: Iowa State University