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Frequently Asked Questions

Fire Safety


Q1)  How do I know if my stored hay is reaching the point of spontaneous combustion?

If you have decided to store your own hay, whether it be in stacks, square bales or round bales it is important to be aware of the impact that rising temperatures within the hay can make. For a long time it has been a hit and miss procedure to estimate whether or not internal temperature of stored hay is reaching dangerous levels. The following tip was provided in the August 3, 2000 issue of Agri-View:

A simple probe inserted into a haystack can accurately monitor temperature. You can make the probe with a 10-foot piece of pipe or electrical tubing. Sharpen the pipe or screw a pointed dowel to the end. Then drill several one-quarter inch diameter holes in the tube just above the pointed end. Drive the probe into the haystack and lower a thermometer on a string into the probe. The thermometer should be left for 10 minutes in several areas to ensure an accurate reading. Watch for these temperatures within your stack:

  • 150 degrees- Point of center. Check temperatures daily.
  • 160 degrees- Danger zone. Measure temperature every four hours and inspect the stack.
  • 175 degrees- Very flammable. Call the fire department. Wet hay down and dismantle the stack.
  • 185 degrees- Expect hot spots. Flames will likely develop when heating hay comes in contact with air.
  • 212 degrees- Temperature rises rapidly. Hay will most certainly ignite. Fight and contain fire.

John Markus

Area Agricultural Agent

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