AGCO Corporation, a leading manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, is applying its experience and innovation in harvesting and haying equipment to the development of efficient and affordable means for harvesting and transporting crop residue for cellulosic feedstock.
After several years of research and development, AGCO's first prototype biomass harvesting system will be demonstrated November 3 at the POET Project LIBERTY Field Day near Emmetsburg, Iowa. Project LIBERTY will produce 25 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year from corn cobs. POET is currently working with 14 farmers in the Emmetsburg area on a pre-commercial harvest, and biomass is a major area of interest.
The biomass harvesting system currently in development at AGCO is a one-pass system which marries proven combine technology and the durable, reliable Hesston large square baler to collect and package clean corn stover, corn cob and leaf mixture into a 3-foot by 4-foot square bale. The time-saving system requires just one pass through the field for both grain and crop-residue harvest. In addition, it provides a biomass product that has minimal silicon content (dirt) as compared to other collection and storage options.
"Large square bales are efficient to stack, store and transport," explains Morrell. "We believe this system will be easily adapted to other sources of biomass such as switchgrass. It also provides a clean, superior corn-stock-based after-feed or bedding for beef and dairy operations." Though not yet commercially available, the system is expected to be offered for all Class VIII combines from AGCO and other manufacturers. AGCO offers a full line of products including tractors, combines and windrowers to compliment the entire biomass collection process.