How does sod end up on pallets?

Have you ever thought about how grass gets stacked so neatly on a pallet? How does it actually get cut out of the ground, and keep just enough soil & roots for it to be able to grow successfully in another environment?

When sod is cut out of the farm, we call this act “harvesting.” There are a couple different methods of harvesting, all of which include heavy equipment and farmers with farmhands who know what they’re doing. The equipment used to harvest the sod is a harvester, and standard harvesters work by using sharp blades to cut the grass at the same length each time, another blade to follow underneath to have a clean cut of the roots and soil, then the cut piece is fed up a conveyor. The back of the harvester holds an empty pallet, and has a spot for two people to stand on, so when the cut piece reaches the top of the conveyor, the farmhands will stack the slabs piece by piece on the pallet.

Thanks to modern technology, there are also harvesters that complete the entire cutting & palleting process on their own – the blades cut, the conveyor pushes the piece up, and has a special stacker that grabs the piece off the conveyor, and stacks it neatly on the pallet.

The harvesting equipment is either a stand-alone piece of equipment or attached to a tractor, either option has a driver who controls the speed of the machine, the depth it’s being cut, and when to drop the full pallet off the back once the complete square footage has been cut and stacked. The driver will drive up and down the length of block (a small portion of the field, pre-measured out) in clean straight lines.

No matter what type of harvester is used, there are thin ribbons of grass (a little strip of grass left behind between each row that was cut out) left at the farm to promote regrowth of that area. Varieties that grow horizontally, such as a Saint Augustine and Bermuda, will do just that and grow out horizontally from the small ribbons that are left behind; whereas a Bahia will re-seed itself and as those seeds sprinkle on the soil left behind, the seeds will germinate and grow new grass.

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