Single-pass corn stover harvest system productivity and cost analysis
To supply a cellulosic ethanol plant that can produce upwards of 30 million gallons of fuel annually, it will take over 300,000 tons of clean corn stover a year. To supply this stover demand, a combination of multi-pass and single-pass harvest systems will be required. Harvesting this amount of corn stover has never been achieved at a commercial scale before. Multi-pass systems are typically used in the harvest of hay and forage crops as well as for some small-scale corn stover collection for livestock feed and bedding. Furthermore, the baseline costs and the productivity effects of multi-pass machines on grain and stover harvest are known. In contrast, such knowledge has not been developed for single-pass stover harvest systems.
Two single-pass stover harvest systems have been identified as potentially viable: bulk harvesting and baling, each of which has distinct advantages and disadvantages. However, single-pass baling has inherent logistical benefits over bulk harvesting that make it more desirable for future development. The objective of this research was to explore and document the effects of additional corn stover passing through currently designed combines on productivity. Another objective was to use the knowledge base to develop cost functions for harvesting corn stover and delivering it to the field edge. Together, these objectives provide a critical cost and performance data not currently available for production level machinery.