FAQs about BioPac'r™, Grass Clipping Silage™ & Green Waste Diversion from Turf Managers, Farmers & Environmentalists.

There are naturally many questions about this new innovation that is going to reinvent the turf grass industry and redefine livestock feeding practices.  Questions about how to use the BioPac'r, how to make or feed Grass Clipping Silage™ and even questions  addressing how the BioPac'r diverts green waste from landfills and transfer stations.  If we haven't answered your question, you have the opportunity to ask your own at the bottom of this page.

Are Lawns that have been sprayed with pesticides safe to use for ensiling?

The short answer is YES, unless the pesticide label specifically states to not feed to livestock.  And not feeding to livestock is much different than a grazing restriction.  Most labels have some type of grazing or re-entry period.  As far as pesticides that have labels stating "DO NOT FEED TO LIVESTOCK", we advise our customers to Red Flag these products so they never accidentally enter our supply chain.

In 1965, Wright's Effect of ensiling on the decomposition of several herbicides. Crop Sci: 455-456) proved that the weed killers that were applied prior to ensiling were degraded by 66% within the first two hours of the ensiling process! After 30 days of ensiling, lab equipment can detect markers of herbicides, but their sensitive instruments are unable to measure any active ingredient.  Again and again, studies confirm that the fermentation process still degrades lawn chemicals today just as they did back in the 1960's.  It's no surprise that beef consumers had the same concerns back then as they have today.  The difference is that in the '60s the issue was the cancer causing DDT.  Today most lawn companies use 2,4-D found at any local hardware store.  DDT is 1,000 times more persistent (still detected after 12 years) than any lawn pesticide used today (2,4-D is only detectible for approximately 10 days) (NIH).

In the Journal of Science, Food and Agriculture research titled DEGRADATION OF COMMERCIAL DDT IN SILAGE, August 1969, Vol. 20, the study states that ensiling breaks down pesticides, and nothing has changed since the 60's to invalidate this claim.

 

Do you have proof that the BioPac'r ensiling process degrades pesticides?

The American farmer understands and trusts the ensiling process to degrade the pesticides that are sprayed on their own crops to keep their animals safe.  Almost 95% of dairy cows eat some form of silage.

Here's Your Proof

In 1965, Wright's Effect of ensiling on the decomposition of several herbicides. Crop Sci: 455-456) proved that the weed killers that were applied prior to ensiling were degraded by 66% within the first two hours of the ensiling process! After 30 days of ensiling, lab equipment can detect markers of herbicides, but their sensitive instruments are unable to measure any active ingredient.  Again and again, studies confirm that the fermentation process still degrades lawn chemicals today just as they did back in the 1960's.  It's no surprise that beef consumers had the same concerns back then as they have today.  The difference is that in the '60s the issue was the cancer causing DDT.  Today most lawn companies use 2,4-D found at any local hardware store.  DDT is 1,000 times more persistent (still detected after 12 years) than any lawn pesticide used today (2,4-D is only detectible for approximately 10 days) (NIH).

In the Journal of Science, Food and Agriculture research titled DEGRADATION OF COMMERCIAL DDT IN SILAGE, August 1969, Vol. 20, the study states that ensiling breaks down pesticides, and nothing has changed since the 60's to invalidate this claim.

What is Silage?

Silage is made from high-moisture agricultural crops in an anaerobic environment (lacking oxygen).  Ag crops include green standing corn plants, alfalfa and grasses that have previously been sprayed with pesticides.  Once the ensiling process is complete, this product can be safely fed to ruminants (cud-chewing animals) like cattle, sheep, buffalo, elk, deer, antelope, goats and many others.

Grass Clipping Silage™ is the name that founder Todd Graus (Inventor of the BioPac'r System) coined to describe this new and emerging commodity made from the grass clippings from golf courses, lawns, sod fields or pastures that are maintained and mowed weekly, bi-weekly, etc., where the fibers are too short to bale.

Note: Non-ruminant animals like horses must be regulated more closely by offering an exact feed ration to prevent overeating and bloating.  Feed Grass Clipping Silage™ in exactly the same manner you would oats, corn, sweat feeds, etc.  Consult your Vet prior to feeding.

How is Grass Clipping Silage™ Made?

Silage production can only be carried out in an oxygen-free (anaerobic) environment in order to preserve nutrient quality and provide a produce with a long shelf life (8+ years).  As lawns are mowed, clippings are dumped into the BioPac'r™ where they are compressed to remove oxygen.  At the end of the day the user will transfer the compressed bale into our specialized poly lined silage bags. The poly bag top is twisted like a bread bag forming an airtight bag. Next the remaining oxygen is used up in the production of heat.  Once the heat is gone (within 24 hours) the inside of the bag is oxygen free. Now the bag is in an anaerobic state and the fermentation process can begin.  Approximately 10 - 28 days later, you have Grass Clipping Silage™ .

Phase 1 - Aerobic phase. In this phase - normally taking only a few hours - the atmospheric oxygen present between the plant particles is reduced, due to the respiration of the plant material and aerobic micro-organisms such as yeasts and enterobacteria. During this phase we only see a 15 degree increase in temperature until all the oxygen is burned up.

Phase 2 - Fermentation phase. This phase starts when the biomass becomes void of all oxygen.  We call this an "anaerobic state", and it begins within a few hours of the sealing of the BioPac'r bag and continues for 10-30 days, depending on the properties of the ensiled forage crop and the ensiling conditions. If the fermentation proceeds successfully, Lactic Acid Bacteria develop and become the predominant population. Due to the production of lactic and other acids, the pH decreases to as low as 3.8 to 5.9, at this point the fresh biomass is renamed silage.  It is also recognized the pesticides are unable to survive these low pH's and breakdown.

Phase 3 - Stable phase. For as long as air is prevented from entering the bag, relatively little occurs. Most micro-organisms of phase 2 slowly decrease in numbers. Some acid-tolerant micro-organisms survive this period in an almost inactive state; others, such as clostridia and bacilli, survive as spores. Only some acid-tolerant proteases and carbohydrases and some specialized micro-organisms, such as Lactobacillus buchneri, continue to be active at a low level.

Learn more on the principals of making silage.

How many one-ton bags of silage can I make in a season?

There are many variables:  Number of crew members mowing, time of year, duration between mows, weeks of mowing available, etc.  We have demonstrated that a single BioPac'r can package a 1-ton Pac'r Bag every four hours.

To estimate how many bags YOU can produce, use this formula:  X weeks of mowing times a 5-day work week times 1 bag per day/day =  X tons.

Example:  30 weeks x 5 x 1 = 150 tons

How does a BioPac'r™ Save my Company Money?

If you are a landscaper, the BioPac'r™ will save you multiple trips to the landfill or dump site each week.  Using the BioPac'r, unloading 3 to 5 pickup loads of lawn clippings takes only minutes.  A BioPac'r™ could pay for itself in the first year by saving landfill fees and labor charges alone. Start producing Lawn Clipping Silage™ that YCC can help you sell by brokering the silage to livestock operators on your behalf.
Our Savings Calculator will project your estimated annual savings.  Then add the revenue of selling 1-ton silage bales and you can see an even brighter future for your company.

Do you have more numbers on the potential return on investment for a landscape company?

Someone from Pennsylvania asked me about Return on Investment.

This LCO is currently recycling grass clippings back into their clients' lawns and he is considering switching to bagging to generate feed and additional revenue.  There are a few variables to calculate Gross Revenue, so you'll have to do a bit more work to discover your own ROI.  It typically requires a complex computer program to calculate ROI, and we will have such a calculator operational in the very near future.  Until then, this exercise will help anyone understand the process of calculating a ballpark figure of the value of Grass Clipping Silage on the open market and the potential revenue an operator could realize over the course of your season.

  1. Grass Clipping Silage™ (GCS) is equivalent in feed value to the best feed your area has this week in the Supreme or Premium Quality Hay categories.
  2. GCS is 65% moisture.
  3. GCS is discounted 50% for the extra moisture to obtain the dry matter basis weight that can then be compared to hay at 15% moisture.
  4. BioPac’r Bag Cost: $25/ton
  5. Biomass Production: 1-ton/acre/week (3-man mowing crew, 2-riding mowers, 1-trim mower, 1-string trimmer) season.
  6. 135 tons generated recently by the Jackson Hole mowing crew (Field Study).
  7. Current value of the best quality hay available for sale in your area. To obtain the dollar value of GCS, determine the current selling price/ton for hay in your area.  I Googled "Current Pennsylvania Hay Prices" and went to:   https://www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/qa_gr111.txt  (Screen Shot Below).

Calculations using the above variables

  1. I see that last Friday the Supreme/Premium quality hay sold for a $363/ton.
  2. Adjusting silage $$ to dry basis hay: (($363/ton * .50 [moisture discount]) - $25/ton [bag cost]))  =  $156.50/ton
  3. (($156.50/ton X acres mowed weekly) X mowing weeks per season) =  Gross Revenue
  4. $156.50 X 135 tons = $21,127.50 of newly generated revenue

 

dec23pennhay

Can I mount my BioPac'r permently at my shop?

No.  The BioPac'r was designed and safety engineered to be the world's first totally portable ensiling system.  OSHA requires that the BioPac'r not be stationary.  Therefore, mount your BioPac'r in a pickup bed, flat bed, landscaper's trailer or an approved 4-tire running gear or any other creative idea you have to make it portable.

Is there a recommended procedure to fill the BioPac'r?

Here is how we field tested the BioPac'r with a lawn care operators and golf course to obtain the best quality Grass Clipping Silage™ possible.  Are there other ways? Possibly!  But you'll have to conduct your own experiments to see what works best for your own unique situation.

1. We would dump the grass clippings into a bulk bag or on a small tarp, and at the end of each property we would dump the bag into the BioPac’r and compress the clippings before moving on to the next yard.

2. We would then move on to the next property, keeping the pressure on the load until we were ready to fill the chamber again, typically at the end of mowing the next property.  Then we would cycle the compaction stroke again.  (Golf courses will need to compact more often due to multiple crews dumping.

3. Once we ran out of space, it was ready to package.

4. If possible we'd leave the clippings in the compactor overnight under pressure and package the next morning allowing all of the oxygen to be purged overnight and the clippings tend to stick to each other.

5. Before packaging, we would cycle the BioPac’r once more to eliminate pore space. If we gained a few more feet of space, we would add more grass then package it.

Note: If we had a few feet of space left, it meant we had tried to compact too much, too fast the previous day, which typically resulted  if we waited until the end of the day to compact two or more crews at once.  The BioPac'r doesn’t work the best this way. Trapped air inside the load needs 15 to 20 minutes between cycles to purge and create a tight pack. This is why we recommend you pack curbside at the end of each property.  Or if you're packing a golf course, mount your BioPac'r on a four-tire running gear and pull it to the fairway mowers to load.

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Running gear

I want to become a drop-off point for landscapers in my area. Is anyone doing this?

We are aware of some BioPac'r owners who are working out the logistics to maximize the use of their machines.  Here are a few rules you will need to follow if you want to make quality, marketable silage with just one unit:

  1.  Make sure the clippings you are adding in the machine are not more than 8 to 10 hours old since harvesting.  If clippings are older than this, the composting process has started due to the available oxygen, and the silage may be unsafe to feed to livestock later.
  2. Allow 10 to 20 minutes between cycles to allow air to be purged from the innermost portions of the developing load.
  3. Devise a way to separate the clippings within the chamber with a divider when two or more companies contribute to a load.  If later there is a feed quality problem with a bag, the divider would allow you to trace back to the company that dropped off the clippings, and we can help these companies revise their process.
  4. Do not attempt to fill the BioPac'r to capacity in under 60 minutes.  If you do, you'll create a bale but because the air was unable to escape, the bale will only weigh 1,000 to 1,200 pounds versus the intended 2,000 pounds.  Also, the additional oxygen in the bale heats up the biomass and will produce unappealing food for animals.

If you have more collection than one unit can handle, add a second or third unit so you can be filling one unit when the other are wait for their turn to be refilled.

How many units will a landfill require?

We recommend 1 unit for every 10,000 in population.  Large landfills may need upwards to 10 units to facilitate a constant dropping off of clippings.  We have wrote an 18 page manual on how your process may work but can also customize a procedure for your specific situation.

  1.  Make sure the clippings you are adding in the machine are not more than 12 hours old since harvesting.  If clippings are older than this, the composting process has started due to the available oxygen, and the silage may be unsafe to feed to livestock later.
  2. Allow 20 minutes between cycles to allow air to be purged from the innermost portions of the developing bale.
  3. Devise a way to separate the clippings within the chamber with a divider when two or more companies contribute to a load.  If later there is a feed quality problem with an individual bag, the divider would allow you to trace back to the company that dropped off the clippings, and we can help these companies revise their harvesting and packing process.
  4. Do not attempt to fill the BioPac'r to capacity in under 3 hours.  If you do, you'll create a bale but because the air was unable to escape, the bale will only weigh 1,000 to 1,400 pounds versus the intended 2,000 pounds.  Also, the additional oxygen in the bale heats up the biomass can side track the biological process producing an unappealing low energy feed for animals.
What are the feed values (TDN, Protein, etc.) of Grass Clipping Silage™?

The protein ranges between 18% and 24%, Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN) has a range of 61% and 65% . Click here to see the entire Feed Analysis.  Show your Vet the feed analysis as well as a sample before feeding.

What's a Lawn Harvester?

A "Lawn Harvester™" is a Trade Marked name that Yellowstone Compact & Commodities coined to be used in place of phrases like "the lawn mowers, the grass cutters, the lawn mower guys, etc.," meaning those who mow lawns.  A "Lawn Harvester™" is a name that can be used (legally) if your company has purchased a BioPac'r™ to produce Lawn Clipping Silage™ and if you are using the YCC sequentially coded Zip Ties to close off the Bio-Liners.

How do I feed Grass Clipping Silage to my cattle?

We recommend that when feeding Grass Clipping Silage™ for the first time, offer 25% Grass Clipping Silage™ to 75% of their normal hay by dry matter the first week to introduce their stomachs to something new and different.  In the second week, begin to increase to a 50/50 ration of hay and Grass Clipping Silage™.  In a feedlot setting, allow your feed mixing software to offer a few different rations and choose the one that suits your needs the best. Show your Vet the feed analysis and a sample before feeding.

Can I feed my sheep Grass Clipping Silage™?

Absolutely!  Here is a Colorado State University study that focused on feeding raw grass clippings and ensiled grass clippings that had been intentionally sprayed with pesticides to study the effects on the test subjects. Evaluation of feeding grass clippings as a feed source for sheep.  Show your Vet the feed analysis and a sample before feeding.

Is it true that the BioPac'r uses Vegetable Oil as a hydraulic fluid?

The BioPac'r runs on food-grade hydraulic fluid.  Pac'r Oil is a biodegradable, food-grade hydraulic fluid.   Any hydraulic fitting will leak at some point.  It's inherent in any machinery that uses hydraulics.  Food-grade hydraulic fluid will not contaminate the grass clippings. And when leaks do appear, no need to worry.  You have just created a salad perfectly safe to feed!

Can horses eat grass clipping silage?

We don't recommend GCS feed for horses.  Horses do not have ruminant stomachs so they cannot be free-fed freshly harvested forage or unlimited corn, which can lead to unrecoverable injury. Grass Clipping Silage can have the same effect.

In a situation where there is a large stable where every horse is fed individually in their own stall, it is possible to offer GSC.  You must first have your individual bags of silage tested for the nutritional value.  You also need to consult your large animal vet or certified feed nutritionist, because pound-for-pound it is as hot as cracked corn.  For example, on paper, a 2,000-pound bag of silage can feed 25 to 50 horses for a week.  Note: Show your Vet the feed analysis and a sample before feeding.

Can hogs eat Grass Clipping Silage?

Hogs can be fed silage but they don't digest cellulose very efficiently.  Show your Vet the feed analysis and a sample before feeding.

I raise laying hens. Can I feed grass silage to them?

Chickens can be fed grass clipping silage.  I fed it to my broilers and layers during the winter months with no ill effects.  We don't have a particular ration to offer, but I threw out about a handful per 5 adult birds.  This is a great scratch to use during the winter months when hens are inside or when the ground is frozen with a blanket of snow across the landscape.  It helps to break the boredom, too.  Show your Vet the feed analysis and a sample before feeding.

Do you make a smaller BioPac'r?

When we looked into a smaller unit, the livestock owners found 1,000 pound bags to be too inefficient for their use. There was also a financial consideration; the cost to make the Pac’r Bags is the same whether it's a 1,000 pound capacity bag or a 2,000 pound capacity bag.  And for marketing purposes, livestock people think in terms of tons and dry matter equivalent. One ton (2,000 lbs.) of Grass Clipping Silage is a wet feed and has the same weight of dry matter as a large round bale of alfalfa.

We compress our clippings at the end of each. Why can we only make 1,400 lb bags?

In 2014 when we were working on our fifth prototype, we visited Walker Mower's manufacturing plant in Fort Collins, Colorado.  They offered us their grass clippings that were being harvested that day.  When we got there we off-loaded all of the clippings we could take.  We would fill the compaction chamber full and compress, fill and compress, until we were at what we thought was the maximum capacity.  The next day before packaging we weighed the BioPac'r and were surprised that the content was only 1,400 pounds, 600 pounds short of our goal.  The next morning we cycled the hydraulics one last time prior to packaging, and we were surprised to find an additional two feet of space!  We realized then that the resting period between cycles was important to purge air from the intertwining of the grass clippings.  The process of purging air trapped in and around the clippings is like air escaping from an air mattress.  No matter how much you push, the air can only come out on the valve stem so fast.

Can anyone become a Distributor of the BioPacr?

In our business model, Distributors are expected to be the financiers of floor models and not necessarily the front-line sales force.

  • Distributors purchase and provide the floor models to Dealers who cannot otherwise afford to have a display model on hand.
  • Distributors provide support to their Dealer network.
  • Potential BioPac'r Distributors should already have a Dealer network in place or be fully committed to establishing a Dealer network in which to place your inventory.
    • Dealers are mainly comprised of lawn mower or small engine repair shops already carrying commercial lawn equipment like Walker, Toro, Grass Hopper, Exmark, John Deere, etc.
  • There are other types of wholesale businesses that can become BioPac'r Distributors with an exclusive territory.

Distributors provide the support to help Dealers become successful.  Feel free to contact us if you would like to know more.

Who are the primary users of the BioPac'r?

Landscapers, golf courses, sod growing companies, property management companies, HOA's, municipalities, landfill operators and many others who manage turf grass.  All benefit by reducing trips to the landfill and by turning their grass clippings into a profitable cattle silage.  And landfills benefit because they no longer have to handle these clippings.

How do I find a buyer for my Grass Clipping Silage™?

You don't have to!  Our Commodities Division will contact livestock owners within a 90-mile radius of your area and will broker a fair, long-term contract that is mutually beneficial.  For the specifics, please read  How To Sell Your Grass Clippings.

How receptive are farmers to Grass Clipping Silage™ ?

There is more DEMAND than our current operators can SUPPLY!  Livestock owners understand "Feed Analysis" and are very excited about the quality.  The first question farmers ask is, "What is the cost per ton?"  The second question is, "How many tons can a turf manager supply?"

This product has more benefits to feeding versus rations containing alfalfa or grass hay.  Feed rations developed by the University of Wyoming incorporating Grass Clipping Silage™ show the daily "Dollar per Head per Day" to feed an animal is less than rations not incorporating this high octane silage.

Smaller farmers are especially excited.  They can buy silage for less than the best quality hay and not have to compete with the big feed lots for availability and pricing.  Of course, this helps the small operators become more sustainable.

 

owl

Ask YCC Experts Another Question:

About BioPac'rtmshortgreen:

image005Yellowstone Compact & Commodities Corp is the manufacturer of the BioPac’r line of products. BioPac'r, Grass 2 Cash, Lawn Clipping Compactor, Lawn Harvester, and Lawn Clipping Silage are ALL Trademarkstmshortgreenof Yellowstone Compact & Commodities Corp.

Contact Us:

Interested in learning more about BioPac'r? Be sure to sign up for our email updates and contact us at info@biopacr.com.

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