Agricultural Plastics Baler Program

Loading a plastics baler The recycling of agricultural plastics from Lake Champlain Valley farms is now a reality as a result of the 2007-2008 Aid to Localities funding. In fact, much of the North Country agricultural community has seen the ag plastics baler in operation and the results of its capabilities. A partnership with Cornell University’s “Recycling Ag Plastics Project” (RAPP), CWICNY and the Clinton County Soil and Water Conservation District have increased awareness and efforts towards the environmentally-friendly removal of once burned/ landfilled plastic refuse. As a result of the success of this program, further efforts are underway to expand the number of plastic balers available to farmers in the western Adirondacks and throughout New York State.

Compacting a plastics baler The “Big Foot 300” agricultural plastics baler (photo) is actually modeled after a tobacco baler from the southern US. It has been modified to compress mountains of agricultural plastics scattered throughout the countryside. The baler is mounted on a hydraulic trailer which can be lowered to the ground for operations and raised for easy transport from farm to farm. A small air-cooled engine operates the hy-draulic system necessary to compress the loose plastic into marketable 40 inch cubes. The 1,200lb bales of plastic will be recycled and reused in a variety of products including plastic lumber. Marketing this type of “dirty plastic” is difficult, and changing economic conditions require constant vigilance. Through the statewide and nationwide contacts of RAPP, the challenge of marketing has an optimum chance of success.

The Ag Plastics program has generated intense media interest and television news exposure as well as numerous written articles across New York State, and parts of the Northeast. A number of hands-on educational demonstrations have thus far occurred in a variety of settings. Beginning on the day of delivery, July 9, 2008, the Marshall Ducharme Farm in West Chazy hosted Clinton County’s first look at the baler. From there the machine has traveled to Empire Farm Days in Seneca Falls, the Franklin County Fair, a demonstration at Hy-View Farms in Chateaugay, as well as two dairy farms in Essex County.

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