Straw is the dry stalk of a cereal plant. It makes up about half of the yield of a cereal crop such as wheat, oats, rye or barley.
In times gone by, it was regarded as a useful by-product of the harvest, but with the advent of the Combine harvester it became more of a burden, almost a nuisance to farmers.
However, there are many signs that straw can be put to many uses, old and new.
Uses of straw
- Bedding and Feed for Animals
- Bedding for Humans
- The straw-filled mattress, also known as palliasse, is still used in many parts of the world.....
- Thatched roofs are becoming increasingly popular, and the skills of a master thatcher are once again in demand.
- 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 sheets.
- Straw envelopes for wine bottles have become rarer, but are still to be found at some wine merchants.
- Archery targets
- Heavy gauge straw rope is coiled and sewn tightly together. This is no longer done entirely by hand, but is partially mechanised.
- Horse collars
- Working horses are making a comeback, and there is a need for horse collars stuffed with good quality rye straw. Being a "long straw filler" is a highly skilled job.
- Bricks / Cob
- In many parts of the world, straw is used to bind clay. This mixture of clay and straw is known as 'cob'. There are many recipes for making cob.
- See also: Straw bale
- Straw Rope
- Rope made from straw was used by thatchers, in the packaging industry and even in iron foundries.
- Straw Plait for the Hatting Industry
- Until about 100 years ago, thousands of women and children in England were employed in the straw hat making industry. Nowadays the straw plait is imported.
- Bee skeps, linen baskets
- These are made from coiled and bound together continuous lengths of straw. The technique is known as Lip work.
- 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.
- It is also used in ponds to 'soak up' algae.
- The soil under strawberries is covered with straw to protect the ripe berries from dirt.
- Decorative uses of straw
A straw is also an device used for sucking up an liquid.