Saving flood-damaged hay

Seymour Rural Equipment’s Colin Stray with the Seymour Composter Travel A4000.AFTER the devastating floods earlier in the year, thousands of hay bales were left damaged in paddocks across Victoria.

But Seymour Rural Equipment’s Colin Stray knew the water-damaged fodder could be turned into precious compost – which could potentially save thousands in fertiliser bills.

The savvy engineer has been manufacturing ‘composters’ in his central Victorian workshop for more than 12 years, but the floods triggered a spike in demand for the Australian-made machine.

He says the biggest benefit had been turning a negative situation into a positive one for farmers across Victoria.

“We were driven by the floods to make our composter more compact and road-friendly,” Mr Stray said.

“Much of the hay could not be moved, so people needed to do the composting on-farm.”

And with the need to be more portable, he said the Seymour Composter Travel A4000 was soon born.

The machine can now be neatly folded up for transport, which has been a bonus for contractors using the unit.

“We took what we had and improved it,” he said.

Since January, the travel composter has been traveling around to flood damaged areas helping farmers.

There are just three simple ingredients needed to make compost, which every farmer should already have on-farm – spoilt hay, effluent waste and cow manure.

And last month, the unit was awarded the 2011 Elmore Australian Machine of the Year at the Elmore Field Days.

“I’ve been inventing for years, but I had never thought to get recognition for it,” he said.

Despite most agricultural machinery being imported from overseas, Seymour Rural Equipment has been operating in Australia for 44 years.

Mr Stray took over the business 35 years ago, but was more than confident about his ability to win this year’s competition at Elmore.

“We blew the competition out of the water,” he said.

Three units were sold at Elmore, and he says the ability to turn on-farm waste into compost would be a valuable option for farmers in the future.

“We had 150 people turn up to the paddock demonstrations at the field days,” he said.

“It’s remarkable; it shows that people are very interested.”

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