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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 13, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta 6 THE HERALD Tuerdoy, June 13, V972 Covered conveyor takes heated cubes to cooler Cubed alfalfa falls on conveyor belt from cubers Face of cubing machine forces hoy inio dies MP Jack Homer checks Tirol Dehydrators opens the first cubing plant Tly niC SWIHART Herad Staff Writer Tirol Dehydrators Ltd. a farmer-owned venture, lias opened Canada's first al- falfa cubing operation near Til- ley, 100 miles northeast of Leth- bridge. The whole principle behind the process is to dry the alfalfa as much as possible and then compact it in cube-form which Is easily handled and stored. Sonny Byrd, plant manager, said the Canadian plant is one of the most up-do-date systems In operatkn. The system has been in use in the U.S. for a few years and much of the equipment for the Tilley plant originated in the U.S. Located on land which would be equivalent to a large farm yard, the plant includes some changes to the surrounding horizon with three SO-foot high towers, two long covered con- veyor belts and a large paved pad for storage of the cubed hay. A macliine shed and control office-weigh station complete the physical buildings, to be manned by up to 21 employees. The plant will process alfalfa on a year-round basis with shutdown precipitated only by harsh winters. Mr. Byrd said even during the cold spells, the plant will process but only .011 an individual order basis. He said the company hopes to stockpile enough cubed pro- duct to carry through the cold weather conditions. The company, formed about 2te years ago when the first meetings were held, will con- tract with farmers to. haul al- falfa to the plant. The raw hay will be accepted in either loose condition or in the form of bales. After the hay has been weigh- ed the truck backs up to a spe- cial unloading area which is buried in the ground. The open- ing on the dump area is about 10 feet in diameter. The hay is actually dumped into a revolving tub wiiich presses the hay against milling hammers, breaking the stems of the plants into Hd-inch long pieces. The leaves and smaller parts of the hay plant are left intact. A conveyor belt takes the ground hay up to a special feeding conveyor belt which puts the hay into the dehydrat- ing drum on a regulated basis. The dehydrating drum Is about 12 feet in diameter and it revolves 60 times per min- ute. Twelve large natural gas jets at the open end .of the drum dry the hay to the re- quired limit. The dehyrating drum moves the hay along the centre to the other end, brings it back to llw end it first entered and then moves it back to the disci largo end. This three-stage system allows the hay to be dried enough. Mr. Byrd said the alfalfa grown in the area js not really that moist so the burners "just idle along." A 200 horse power electric motor drives a large fan wlilch pushes the dry hay up to the first of two cooling cyclones. The hay falls down the cyclone, picking up cooling air. It enters the first cooling cy- clone at a temperature of about 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot air escapes from the top and coo! air is pushed In the bottom of the tall cylinder-shaped cy- clone. The process is repeated with the second cyclone. The fan on this machine is driven by a 60 horse power motor; When the hay finally Is push- ed to the top of a special tower for entry to the cubing mach- ines, it is cooled to about 80 le- grees. Mr. Byrd said the cooler the belter but because the out- Eide air is used, this is the cool- est the hay can get. A special live-bottom bin, made up of a series of augres, pushes the hay into the cubing machines at a regulated rate to ensure proper cubing. The cubcrs, built by the John Deere Company, can handle t tons of hay per hour. Tlw hay is pressed through special wid in the process, picks up heat as high as WO ;