Effect of conditioning on the drying of alfalfa
Authors: Rennie, T
Description: There is some debate in the best management practices for the field drying of alfalfa. It has been hypothesized that alfalfa will have a higher drying rate if the material is cut with no conditioning. The theory is that transpiration from the leaves will draw moisture from the stems with an end result of a greater drying rate. This study investigates the effects of conditioning on the drying rate of alfalfa under typical field conditions. Five treatments were applied to cut alfalfa plants: no crimping, 1 crimp, 2 crimps, 3 crimps, and cut in half. Six replicates were performed. Trials were performed over 2 to 4 days, depending on the weather conditions. The weight of the crop was measured on an hourly basis during the day. The drying rate between treatments was compared by using an exponential curve fit to the data for each day of drying. The exponent in the exponential fit was used as the characteristic drying rate for comparison. During the first day of drying, the whole plants resulted in the lowest drying rate with an exponent value of 0.09 h-1. The 1, 2, and 3 crimp trials results in exponent values of 0.13, 0.14, and 0.14 h-1, respectively. The alfalfa plants cut in half had an average exponent of 0.14 h-1. These results indicate that crimping or additional maceration of the crop does increase the drying rate of alfalfa.
Keywords: drying, alfalfa, conditioning
Technical field: technical_fields_app4
Session name: Food and bioprocess engineering