By Cameron Chai
Baling hay is helping the Tinker Air Force Base (AFB) achieve a green sustainable complex. The base located in Oklahoma is an aerospace maintenance, repair and overhaul complex for the U.S. Air Force.
Under the five-year lease agreement, a local farmer nears completion of haying operations at the Tinker Aerospace Complex, Okla. Large round bales recently harvested can weigh anywhere from 600 up to 1,800 pounds, depending on size and moisture content, and will lose up to 200 pounds after nine months of storage. (U.S. Air Force photo/Brion Ockenfels)
Hay baling, an agricultural operation, is being used as a grounds-keeping activity at the Tinker AFB. It is aimed at helping reduce grounds-maintenance costs, while also greening the base. When comparing hay baling and mowing, it has helped the AFB save approximately $70,000 in a year. Hay baling seems to be an attractive proposition instead of mowing, stated the natural resources manager in the 72nd Air Base Wing CE, John Krupovage. He added that tax payer’s money will be used if mowing was done, but if haying was done it does not cost much.
Tinker AFB has formulated a Green Infrastructure Plan and as part of it, certain areas that are being hayed presently will be converted into woodland areas or native prairie lands. This will help the AFB reduce its grounds maintenance costs even further and continue progress towards its sustainable complex objectives.
Tinker AFB initiated hay baling operations in 2009 covering an area of 115 ac, which has now been increased to 300 ac. So far, over 900 bales weighing around 1,000 lb each have been harvested.
While baling hay, the AFB complies with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to protect dickcissels, meadowlarks and other nesting birds. As haying grass does not attract much wildlife, it does not affect the airfield’s operations.
AFB officials are looking out for other similar ways to maintain the Tinker AFB.