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GSBN:Re: Leaving bales bare



I agree with Rene that plastering soon after stacking bales is a very good
idea.  I disagree on some of the reasons which he states.

Fresh dry bales are basically relatively spore free.

Relatively spore free, compared to ???  Various decay-causing mold and
fungus spores are endemic to the environment where the straw was grown and
harvested.  Spores are present in small quantities throughout the field,
the baling machinery and within the bale itself.  Spore distribution is
determined by the environmental balance of the area.

If these bales are rapidly encased in plaster there is very little chance
that the straw will be infected with new fungus spores.

I doubt the importance of this, although the local environment could make a
difference.  There aren't many new spores in the air, if we are talking
about an outdoor building site that isn't too close to a blooming mold or
fungus colony.  In Rene's location, perhaps this is a big issue.  However,
if the bales are stacked in the same general environment where the straw
grew, then the quantity and variety of the rot-inducing critters will not
increase much with exposure to ambient air.  Dusting the exposed surface of
a bale wall with a few dormant spores is not a good way to inoculate a
bale.  Those spores will stay dormant on the outside surface of the bale,
until the bale gets wet.

Therefore seriously improving the chances of a long life span
of the SB wall even in the event of a one time wetting.

Maybe.  I don't feel that I know enough to characterize the causes of the
observed phenomenon- that sometimes wetted bales do fine and other times
they decay dramatically.

I think the main thing separating these cases is the presence
or lack of- spores in the bales.

Granted, this is the cause of the difference.  But we need to understand
the "cause of the cause."  I think picking up a few dormant spores on the
bale surface is insignificant.  I believe that what makes the biggest
difference is the presence of developed colonies (for some micro-organisms)
and magnitude of the total number of decay-producing organisms.  This is
more likely to be controlled by the number of times, and the length of each
time, when the decay-causing spores/molds/fungi in a given bale have the
conditions needed to move out of dormancy and into the growth and
reproduction phases.

Following on to my previous assertion, adding a few dormant spores to the
surface of a bale increases the total spore count throughout the bale by a
tiny fraction.  Giving all the micro-organisms in the bale a few hours of
growth time can increase the total spore count of the bale by many
thousands of times.  Giving some kinds of micro-organisms a chance to
organize their colonies before returning to dormancy, allows them to
reproduce much more rapidly and aggressively than a similar number of
scattered individuals.  I think these latter differences cause the
problems, and the diverse decay rates that we have seen in bales.

I could be wrong.  It would be great to get some biologists involved in
researching this question.  It will present a challenging research design.
In the meantime, I endorse Rene's suggestion to always plaster the bales as
quickly as possible, and add the suggestion that we do everything possible
to keep all the micro-organisms in the bale dormant as completely and
continuously as possible.

Derek

--On Monday, January 17, 2005 3:12 PM +0100 Rene Dalmeijer
rene.dalmeijer@... wrote:

Fellow SBers,

A topic I have been pondering recently concerns the logic of rapidly
applying plaster to bale walls. I plead for doing so.   Based on the
following logic:

Fresh dry bales are basically relatively spore free. If these bales are
rapidly encased in plaster there is very little chance that the straw
will be infected with new fungus spores. Therefore seriously improving
the chances of a long life span of the SB wall even in the event of a
one time wetting.

In the past I have heard about and seen SB houses that have experienced
such a seemingly disastrous wetting without serious consequences. I
expect that the bales were able to dry without fungus growth setting in
because of very low spore levels due to using fresh and dry straw
during the build. In other cases though I have seen bales rapidly
growing mushrooms after a seemingly light wetting. I think the main
thing separating these cases is the presence or lack of- spores in the
bales.

I wonder what others feel on this topic. I strongly believe that one of
the main tricks to longevity to SB walls is getting the bales dry in
the walls and then getting the building rapidly out of the after
building moisture phase.

Rene

Derek Roff
Language Learning Center
Ortega Hall 129, MSC03-2100
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
505/277-7368, fax 505/277-3885
Internet: derek@...