The Council of Agriculture said the Pingtung branch of its Livestock Research Institute has recently developed a technique to make waste hay into hay charcoal or hay vinegar that can be used as disinfectant products in homes.
The season for growing hay usually coincides with the nation’s rainy season. The wet weather can negatively affect the quality hay and cause mold growth and as such, nearly 5,000 tonnes can be wasted each season, the institute said.
This is a waste of resources and bad for the environment, it added.
At a cost of about NT$50,000 (US$1,700) per oven, the institute designed a charcoal oven chamber — or a kiln — which can burn waste hay without using external resources.
The smoke produced during the charring procedure can be collected and condensed into hay vinegar.
Using this technique, about 40kg of hay charcoal and hay vinegar can be produced from every 200kg of dry hay, the institute said.
The cost of producing hay charcoal is about NT$20 per kilogram, much cheaper than the cost of producing bamboo charcoal, which is about NT$130 per kilogram, the institute added.
Hay charcoal is a type of biological carbon, which is more absorptive than wood charcoal or bamboo charcoal, and is rich in phosphorus and potassium and thus suitable for making into seed- rearing substances, the institute said.
It can also be made into deodorizing mats for pets, food additives for farm animals or used to balance the acidity of farming soil, it added.
In addition, it said hay vinegar is a complicated compound that contains up to 200 substances, and is a good disinfectant for bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and salmonella, so can be made into cleaning products for homes.