Landscapers and homeowners looking for an affordable and attractive ground cover or mulch may consider pine needles, but this material may not be easy to harvest if no pine trees grow nearby. A pine straw baler is a machine used to create bales of pine straw from fallen pine needles, thereby allowing the pine straw to be shipped, stacked, stored, or otherwise transported easily to customers in need of ground cover. A pine straw baler may be hand-operated or motorized, and the main function is to compress pine needles or straw as tightly as possible to form a rectangular brick known as a bale.
A manual pine straw baler will feature an arm that acts as a lever. The user will pull down on this arm once the pine straw is loaded into a chamber or hopper. When the arm is pulled down, it will actuate a compression plate or arm that will press against the pine straw, creating the bale as the straw presses against the walls of the machine. Once the bale is formed, a user can remove it from the chamber and tie it off with baling string or wire. This helps the bale keep its shape during transport.
Commercial businesses are likely to use a motorized pine straw baler for better efficiency. The motorized baler is likely to feature an engine that runs on gasoline; this engine will power a hydraulic arm that will press against the pine straw once it is loaded into the chamber or hopper. Using a motorized pine straw baler has two distinct advantages: first, the bale is likely to be packed much tighter, which means a denser bale is formed with more material in less space; second, the motorized baler will create bales more quickly than a manual baler.
The chamber of the pine straw baler can be made from wood or metal. In most cases, the chamber will be made from steel because this metal tends to be exceptionally durable and unyielding under the pressure of the hydraulic arm. It is possible to make a pine straw baler from scratch, in which case wood is a good material to use for both the chamber and the arm because wood is easy to manipulate or otherwise cut to size. Commercial and industrial machines are likely to be made from metal, however, regardless of whether the machine is manually operated or engine-powered.