Can you explain what the word "straddle" means in the following context please?

Does it mean " pouring mulch/compost in a organized way in long rows like a bale "

Compost windrow turners were developed to produce compost on a large scale. They are traditionally a large machine that straddles a windrow of 4 feet (1.25 meters) or more high, by as much as 12 feet (3.5 meters) across. Although smaller machines exist for small windrows, most operations use large machines for volume production.


  • I'm sure it is a more conventional definition of straddle.
    – choster
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 16:47
  • @choster I still don't get it
    – Mrt
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 16:55
  • @Mrt "to sit or ride with a leg on either side of (something)" or "to be on both sides of (something)" should work. This video shows such a machine straddling a windrow while turning the windrow at the same time. Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 17:01
  • @DamkerngT, Your video is quite helpful. My experience, growing up as a farm boy, was to turn hay with a windrow machine. I was hoping turning mulch is a similar process.
    – JimM
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 17:23

2 Answers 2


The primary meaning of "straddle" specifically has to do with the positioning of a person's legs in relation to something, as in the following pictures.

Straddling a stream (or a tiny river, as explained in the source):

Straddling a small river

Straddling a fence (a common metaphor for indecisiveness):

Straddling a fence

The best way to understand "straddle" is not with a definition that tries to encompass all the many ways the word can be used, but with its primary meaning. People commonly extend the primary meaning metaphorically in an endless variety of ways to create new and different meanings.

It often helps to consider the etymology of a word to understand its present meaning. Historically, "straddle" is related to the word "stride". This connection shows itself in the strong association between "straddle" and legs, even though people often use "straddle" to mean things that have nothing to do with literal legs. See also "straddle stretch", "straddle cuddle", and especially "straddle option".

So, even though I have no idea what a compost windrow turner is, my experience as a native speaker leads me to guess from the paragraph that you quoted that it probably has something analogous to a person's legs, and that these "legs" stand at various places around the perimeter of a windrow, with the "body" of the turner above the center of the windrow. (I don't even know what a windrow is.)

The pictures are from: "Straddle the Columbia" by the Bonneville Power Association, and Gravity's Rainbow.


The Free Dictionary defines straddle as to be on both sides of; extend over or across. The wheels of the windrow turner would be on both sides of the compost windrow. The mulch has already been poured onto the field before it gets turned. The reason for turning a compost windrow is to face the moist base of the mulch to the top, so the compost dries in the sun with uniform moisture throughout.

  • Thanks I see , then straddling a composit is kind of creating rows of piled of compost/mulch before it gets turned which I know why it is done and no need to be done on both side of a field ?
    – Mrt
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 17:32
  • Not exactly. The rows get created, first, before the windrow machine is used. After the top has dried to the desired moisture level, the machine turns the moist mulch at the base to the top to dry.
    – JimM
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 17:35
  • Well I meant the same thing actually
    – Mrt
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 17:43
  • @Mrt- straddling has only to do with how something is standing or is situated. It has nothing to do with creating anything. If I stand with one foot on one side of a puddle and the other foot on the other side of the puddle I am straddling the puddle. If I place a chair such that two legs are on one side of a crack in the floor and the other two legs are on the other side of the crack then the chair is straddling the crack.
    – Jim
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 19:35
  • 1
    @Mrt - "Straddle" has nothing to do with making rows or anything else. It only means that the machine is supported (in this case by tires) on each side of the row. Whether the machine creates rows, buries rows, sits perfectly still and does nothing, or throws them on a truck is completely unrelated. Commented Jun 14, 2015 at 0:05

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