We’ve been asked before about what do we do with all the leftover plant material after it’s been “cooked” by the steam? And how do you get it out of the wagons? Good questions!
Well…we have to put it somewhere and it contains Nitrogen and other nutrients that are good for the soil. After steam distillation the “cooked hay” as we call it is hot and heavy.
At our Yakima Valley farm a wagon is taken from the still and back out to a field and tipped up at a steep angle, thus dumping it in huge piles. At our Hermiston farm we have a huge lift that we drive onto and secure the wagon before lifting it skywards.
Later, after the cooked hay cools, we put it in spreader trucks. These work by having a rolling bed that gradually pushes the hay towards the back of the truck where spinning rollers with blades flings it out all over the fields.
Taking the extra time to do this means we use less fertilizer, it improves soil tilthe (composition of the soil) making it easier to work the fields the following year, and it puts organic matter back into the earth.