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Rural Hospital’s Future Is Bright Thanks to Biomass

Biomass, as a sustainable fuel, does more than just help the environment—it saves lives. Many rural hospitals have antiquated boiler systems that burn oil for fuel during the cold winter months. This is not a sustainable heat source, and the cost is putting many of them in the red. These hospitals often are the only close access to medical care in low income communities.

Biomass Hospital

Piedmont Geriatric State Hospital in Burkeville, Virginia, is using biomass to keep its buildings warm during those long winters. The hospital burns around 3,000 tons of native warm season grasses (NWSG) as biofuel, supplied by FDC Enterprises, from November to May. The hospital saves, on average, more than $1,300 per day during those seven months.

On an energy basis, biomass is roughly one-third the cost of fuel, which quickly adds up. Glenn Farris stated, “For many rural hospitals, being able to save over $200,000 per year is the difference between staying open or closing their doors. It can also be the way to bring that next important lifesaving machine or a new doctor to their facility. It can’t help but make you feel good to know you work for a company and in an industry that can make great things like this happen.”

By using biomass energy, hospitals can save money normally used to heat the building and instead better serve the community. Biomass is a win for rural hospitals, the communities they serve and the environment. To learn more about AGCO Biomass solutions, please visit: http://bit.ly/AGCOBiomass.

Fuel In The Field

If not in its infancy, biomass farming is perhaps still toddling along. Yet, most indicators point to a significant increase in production and an additional source of revenue for farmers, as well as a variety of other benefits, depending on the crop being grown.

Signs point to a number of infrastructure, process and equipment enhancements that will make the harvesting, transportation and storage of biomass much more efficient in the next few years, if not sooner.

Many areas in the Corn Belt actually produce higher yields if a portion of the stover is removed.

Many areas in the Corn Belt actually produce higher yields if a portion of the stover is removed.

For starters, consider the harvesting of corn stover, which in many areas of the country can increase corn yields for the following year. Also, perennial grasses such as miscanthus and switchgrass can be grown on marginal land, require little in the way of inputs, and offer a number of environmental benefits, such as helping to filter runoff and prevent erosion.

Among such biomass-producing crops, stover already has a foothold. It’s readily available in many parts of the Corn Belt, where a partial harvest does help yields.

Now farmers and the biofuels industry are looking ahead at increased production of all things biomass, including the crops mentioned above, as well as energy sorghum, woody biomass and more. The U.S Department of Energy predicts total crop- and pastureland planted in bioenergy crops will increase from less than 10 million acres today to between 60 and 80 million acres over the next 15 years.

As a result of this increased demand, new processes and technologies are in development to help make the gathering and transport of biomass, particularly stover, more efficient and profitable for the farmer. Especially promising is single-pass harvesting, which promises the operator considerable time and fuel savings over other methods currently in use.

“AGCO has a unique solution for single-pass harvesting equipment with their new series of combines that are single-pass compatible,” says Dr. Matt Darr, assistant professor of Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University. “AGCO is also a leader in the industry with single-pass baling products to provide producers and large energy companies the opportunity to make single-pass harvesting a reality within a supply chain.”

The technology in Hesston® by Massey Ferguson balers is ready-made to handle stover, as well as other biomass crops. Already, the Hesston 2170XD large square baler has earned its stripes for how densely it can pack the bulky crops, says David Ibbetson, a Kansas-based custom baler who uses two 2170XD balers to bundle some 15,000 bales each year in Iowa. He also uses Hesston round balers to bundle another 1,500-plus bales closer to his home in Yates Center.

Several other pieces of equipment that will aid in the harvesting of residue are now in the pipeline at AGCO. One such tool is a corn header that can harvest upwards of 150% higher volumes of corn and MOG. Another is a receiver chute that’s attached to the front of the baler and allows it to take in MOG without it being deposited on the ground before baling. “By having the baler accept the residue directly,” explains Maynard Herron, AGCO’s engineering manager at its Hesston, Kan., plant, “you cut in half the amount of ash in the bale. Those cleaner bales, of course, are more valuable and make this approach to stover more profitable to the farmer.”

playstoverWatch a video of Iowa State’s Dr. Matt Darr explaining when harvesting corn stover can increase yields, save money and time, and generate revenue at http://www.myfarmlife.com/crops/the-case-for-stover/.

Continue the conversation: Do you harvest stover? If so, have you seen a benefit on your farm?

If you would like to learn more about AGCO’s Biomass Solutions, please visit: www.bit.ly/AGCOBiomass.

 

25,000th Large Square Baler Celebrated in Hesston, Kansas

In 1978, Hesston Corporation introduced the Model 4800, the industry’s first large square baler, revolutionizing hay production and feeding practices at a time when labor availability and fuel prices were driving a need for innovations on the farm. Big square balers have come a long way since then, and on May 16, 2013, a large crowd gathered at AGCO’s Hesston Operations to celebrate the 25,000th large square baler built in Hesston, Kan.

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Credit for the big baler idea is generally given to Allen White, who spent more than 25 years as a company engineer. White started his research by building a giant bale chamber in the engineering lab and manually packing it with hay. When the 4-foot-by-4-foot bale did not get hot or spoil, engineers went on to build the first prototype baler. They quickly realized that the side-feed approach currently being used would not work, and in 1975, the first prototype that fed hay into the bottom of the bale chamber was built.
After extensive field-testing, the Model 4800 was perfected and released in 1978. Field testing and working with farmers to meet their needs have always been a hallmark of equipment development at Hesston. These productive balers proved to be a more labor-efficient and economical way to harvest, store and feed forages.

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Today, balers built in Hesston are sold in as many as 39 countries and used to bale everything from alfalfa and grass hay to wheat straw, miscanthus for biofuel production, and even recyclables such as newspaper and aluminum cans.
“It is amazing to look back at all that has gone into today’s big baler models,” says Dean Morrell, product marketing manager, Hay and Forage. “Building the 25,000th baler is an invigorating milestone and a great tribute to everyone who has been involved in its development. I know there will be even more innovations in the future large square balers built in Hesston.”

Fun Facts About the 25,000th Large Square Baler Built in Hesston

Tomorrow, May 16, the 25,000th large square baler will roll off the assembly line at the AGCO facility in Hesston, Kansas USA and be presented to its new owner. Here are a few fun facts about the large square baler to help kick off this historic eventHS_25k_Baler_Banner_v1

• The first large square baler — the Hesston model 4800, produced at the AGCO facility in Hesston, Kan. — was introduced in 1978.
• Nearly 50 individual patents were awarded to the original baler.
• There are at AGCO 15 employees who were involved with developing and building the first large square balers and are still working at the Hesston facility today.
• Together, they have 610 years of experience working at the Hesston facility, with tenures ranging from 36 to 49 years.
• Large square balers built in Hesston have been sold under the following brand names: Hesston, New Idea, Massey Ferguson, Fendt, Challenger, Case IH, New Holland and AGCO.
• They have been used to bale everything from alfalfa and grass hay to wheat straw, miscanthus for biofuel production and even recyclables such as newspaper and aluminum cans.
• Large square balers manufactured in Hesston have proudly been sold and delivered to customers in as many as 39 countries all over the world.
• Hesston by Massey Ferguson Models 2170XD and 2190 create bales that are 4-feet x 3-feet or 4-feet x 4-feet, respectively, and can weigh up to a ton.

 

AGCO Supports Ag Learning

AGCO has recently loaned a Challenger MT765C tractor for use in classroom, research and extension activities to the agricultural and biosystems engineering program at Iowa State University.
The growth in AGCO support over the past few years has made a tremendous impact on our students. The AGCO scholarships not only offer financial support to our undergraduate students, but they also provide an opportunity for our students to learn about career opportunities that exist within AGCO,” said Ramesh Kanwar, department chair.

Support for graduate research provides funding for graduate students to pursue advanced degrees and for AGCO to benefit from the expertise within the advanced machinery engineering group at ISU according to Brian Steward, associate professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering. “Today’s agricultural vehicles are a blend of mechanical, hydraulic and electronic systems. Our graduate students perform research and learn how to interact with these highly integrated systems. Such research results in next generation technologies to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability,” he said.

The MT765C features an engine producing 320 horsepower, a one-touch management system for operator functions and an electronic system that allows the tractor to communicate with a variety of standardized implements. The tractor will provide a technology platform for several courses including auto-steering and precision agriculture activities within the agricultural systems technology program and the electronic integration courses offered to agricultural engineering students.

The MT765C will also help support the production scale cellulosic biomass feedstock collection work that ISU ag engineers conduct at the ISU BioCentury Research Farm. ” Source: Iowa State University – College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

What are your communities doing to support ag education?