Straw is an agricultural by-product, the dry stalks of cereal plants,
after the grain and chaff have been removed.
Straw makes up about half
of the yield of cereal crops such as barley, oats, rice, rye and
wheat. It has many uses, including fuel, livestock bedding and fodder,
thatching and basket-making. It is usually gathered and stored in a
straw bale, which is a bundle of straw tightly bound with twine or
wire. Bales may be square, rectangular, or round, depending on the
type of baler used.
4 See also
6 External links
Current and historic uses of straw include:
Straw may be fed as part of the roughage component of the diet to
cattle or horses that are on a near maintenance level of energy
requirement. It has a low digestible energy and nutrient content (as
opposed to hay, which is much more nutritious). The heat generated
when microorganisms in a herbivore's gut digest straw can be useful in
maintaining body temperature in cold climates. Due to the risk of
impaction and its poor nutrient profile, it should always be
restricted to part of the diet. It may be fed as it is, or chopped
into short lengths, known as chaff.
Bee skeps and linen baskets are made from coiled and bound together
continuous lengths of straw. The technique is known as lip work.
Bedding: humans or livestock
The straw-filled mattress, also known as a palliasse, is still used in
many parts of the world.
It is commonly used as bedding for ruminants and horses. It may be
used as bedding and food for small animals, but this often leads to
injuries to mouth, nose and eyes as straw is quite sharp.
The use of straw as a carbon-neutral energy source is increasing
rapidly, especially for biobutanol.
Straw or hay briquettes are a
biofuel substitute to coal.
Straw, processed first as briquettes, has been fed into a biogas plant
in Aarhus University, Denmark, in a test to see if higher gas yields
could be attained.
The use of straw in large-scale biomass power plants is becoming
mainstream in the EU, with several facilities already online. The
straw is either used directly in the form of bales, or densified into
pellets which allows for the feedstock to be transported over longer
distances. Finally, torrefaction of straw with pelletisation is
gaining attention, because it increases the energy density of the
resource, making it possible to transport it still further. This
processing step also makes storage much easier, because torrefied
straw pellets are hydrophobic. Torrefied straw in the form of pellets
can be directly co-fired with coal or natural gas at very high rates
and make use of the processing infrastructures at existing coal and
gas plants. Because the torrefied straw pellets have superior
structural, chemical and combustion properties to coal, they can
replace all coal and turn a coal plant into an entirely biomass-fed
power station. First generation pellets are limited to a co-firing
rate of 15% in modern IGCC plants.
In many parts of the world, straw is used to bind clay and concrete. A
mixture of clay and straw, known as cob, can be used as a building
material. There are many recipes for making cob.
When baled, straw has moderate insulation characteristics (about
R-1.5/inch according to Oak Ridge National Lab and Forest Product Lab
testing). It can be used, alone or in a post-and-beam construction, to
build straw bale houses. When bales are used to build or insulate
buildings, the straw bales are commonly finished with earthen plaster.
The plastered walls provide some thermal mass, compressive and ductile
structural strength, and acceptable fire resistance as well as thermal
resistance (insulation), somewhat in excess of North American building
Straw is an abundant agricultural waste product, and requires
little energy to bale and transport for construction. For these
reasons, straw bale construction is gaining popularity as part of
passive solar and other renewable energy projects.
Wheat straw can be used as a polymer filler combined
with polymers to produce composite lumber.
Enviroboard can be made from straw.
Japanese Traditional Cat's House
Straw bales are sometimes used for sediment control at construction
sites. However, bales are often ineffective in protecting water
quality and are maintenance-intensive. For these reasons the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and various state agencies
recommend use of alternative sediment control practices where
possible, such as silt fences, fiber rolls and geotextiles.
Burned area emergency response
In-stream check dams
There are several styles of straw hats that are made of woven straw.
Many thousands of women and children in England (primarily in the
Luton district of Bedfordshire), and large numbers in the United
States (mostly Massachusetts), were employed in plaiting straw for
making hats. By the late 19th century, vast quantities of plaits were
being imported to England from Canton in China, and in the United
States most of the straw plait was imported.
A fiber analogous to straw is obtained from the plant Carludovica
palmata, and is used to make Panama hats.
Traditional Japanese rain protection consisted of a straw hat and a
Straw is used in cucumber houses and for mushroom growing.
In Japan, certain trees are wrapped with straw to protect them from
the effects of a hard winter as well as to use them as a trap for
It is also used in ponds to reduce algae by changing the nutrient
ratios in the water.
The soil under strawberries is covered with straw to protect the ripe
berries from dirt, and straw is also used to cover the plants during
winter to prevent the cold from killing them.
Straw also makes an excellent mulch.
Straw is resistant to being crushed and therefore makes a good packing
material. A company in France makes a straw mat sealed in thin plastic
Straw envelopes for wine bottles have become rarer, but are still to
be found at some wine merchants.
Wheat straw is also used in compostable food packaging such as
Packaging made from wheat straw can be certified
compostable and will biodegrade in a commercial composting
Straw can be pulped to make paper.
Rope made from straw was used by thatchers, in the packaging industry
and even in iron foundries.
Koreans wear Jipsin, sandals made of straw.
In some parts of Germany like
Black Forest and
Hunsrück people wear
straw shoes at home or at carnival.
Heavy gauge straw rope is coiled and sewn tightly together to make
archery targets. This is no longer done entirely by hand, but is
partially mechanised. Sometimes a paper or plastic target is set up in
front of straw bales, which serve to support the target and provide a
Thatching uses straw, reed or similar materials to make a waterproof,
lightweight roof with good insulation properties.
Straw for this
purpose (often wheat straw) is grown specially and harvested using a
Dried straw presents a fire hazard that can ignite easily if exposed
to sparks or an open flame. It can also trigger allergic rhinitis in
people who are hypersensitive to airborne allergens such as straw
In addition to its current and historic uses, straw is being
investigated as a source of fine chemicals including alkaloids,
flavonoids, lignins, phenols, and steroids.
Corn stover (corn straw)
Sheaf (agriculture), a bundle of straw
Stook, a stack of straw
^ firstname.lastname@example.org (2017-06-30). "show". dca.au.dk. Retrieved
Straw Bale House: Suitability for the Eastern U.S.
^ Adding Value to
Straw By Anduin Kirkbride-McElroy. Biomass
^ California Stormwater Quality Association. Menlo Park, CA.
“California Stormwater BMP Handbook:
Straw Bale Barrier.” Best
Management Practice (BMP) No. SE-9. January 2003.
^ U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Washington, DC. "National Menu
of Stormwater Best Management Practices:
Hay Bales." June 1,
^ a b Baynes, T.S.; Smith, W.R., eds. (1887). "Straw
Manufactures". Encyclopædia Britannica. 22 (9th ed.). New York:
Charles Scribner's Sons.
^ a b Ripley, George; Dana, Charles A., eds. (1879). "Straw".
The American Cyclopædia.
^ Henshall, Kenneth. A History of Japan: From Stone Age to Superpower.
Springer. p. 67. ISBN 9780230346628.
^ Viv Biz Club: Compostable Plates
^ McLaren, Duncan; Bullock, Simon; Yousuf, Nusrat (2013-11-05).
Tomorrow's World: Britain's Share in a Sustainable Future. Routledge.
^ Schnitzer M, Monreal CM, Powell EE (2014). "
Wheat straw biomass: A
resource for high-value chemicals". Journal of Environmental Science
and Health, Part B. 49 (1): 51–67. doi:10.1080/03601234.2013.836924.
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