When Al Sheahan purchased a 12-row corn head last year to replace the six-row head on his combine, he had more than increased capacity in mind. He was also taking one more step toward implementing a controlled traffic farming (CTF) program and reducing compaction on the 2,800 acres he farms in partnership with neighbor Todd Myren near Nelson, Wis.
CTF systems, which have been more prevalent in Canada, Europe and Australia, are now gaining additional converts in the U.S., and for good reason. Research in tilled soils shows approximately 75 to 80% of the increase in soil density and 90% of wheel sinkage—both of which can ultimately limit plant growth—are caused during the first pass. However, CTF can limit the compacted area to less than 15% of a given field, compared to more than 50% from some uncontrolled traffic systems.
The benefit is to a farmer’s bottom line. Australian research over 20 years has shown CTF can improve grain quality and has the potential to increase grain yields by 2 to 16%.
There are other benefits, including improving fuel and other input efficiencies. Yet, CTF often requires an investment of time and money on the front end. For instance, Sheahan and Myren have purchased a variety of equipment that allows them to confine their footprint to the fewest traffic lanes. “Because all of our machines are set up for GPS-guided autosteering on an RTK system, we can use the same wheel tracks for just about every pass,” says Sheahan.
“A lot of our equipment already fits a 30-foot pattern, so the combine was just the next step,” Sheahan says of the Massey Ferguson® 8780 he bought used. “We try to plant no-till as much as we can and limit any other tillage to vertical tillage or a field cultivator. Still, our tillage equipment is 30 feet wide; our 12-row planter covers 30 feet; the sprayer covers 60 feet; and our RoGator,® which we use to apply liquid nitrogen, spans 90 feet.
“We have everything set up for 30-inch rows, with four rows between the tires on just about every machine,” he explains. “We realize, of course, that there will be more compaction on those wheel-track rows, but at least it will be limited to those rows.”
For more advice on how to limit compaction, including how to set tire pressure and the benefits of the front-axle suspension system on Massey Ferguson and other AGCO equipment, see http://www.myfarmlife.com/advantage/fighting-compaction-tread-lightly/.
Massey Ferguson, a worldwide brand of AGCO (NYSE: AGCO), has introduced the innovative Harvest Promise compensation scheme for operators of current production MF combines.
In the event of eligible MF combines being immobilised due to non-delivery of critical parts within 24 hours, the scheme compensates the customer should a contractor or replacement machine need to be hired to continue the harvest. Under the scheme, a refund of 35 Euros/ha will be made to the customer up to a maximum total of 3,500 Euros.
New MF ACTIVA S and MF BETA combines from Massey Ferguson provide more engine power, improve operator comfort and control as well as increase harvesting performance in a wide range of crops.
“These new straw walker models, with drum and concave threshing, offer superb flexibility for efficient harvesting in a wide range of European conditions and crops – even rice,” says Adam Sherriff, Manager Marketing Powered Harvesting. “They provide the power, economy and performance required by the largest sector of the market and offer these users an unrivalled combination of the latest technology with exceptional comfort and control with ease of use from a reliable and straightforward design.
All the combines can be specified with the market-leading PowerFlow header, which is now available in widths up to 6.8m for the MF ACTIVA S models and 7.7m for the MF BETA combines. PowerFlow uses a continuous belt feed to gather crops, reduce table losses significantly and presents an even ‘heads first’ crop flow, which can boost output by up to 73% in oilseed rape.
The new MF ACTIVA S models also now boasts the completely new Proline cab. Developed specifically for these machines and offers specifications usually found only on higher capacity combines, such as the latest TechTouch 2 terminal, which provides automatic settings for numerous crops as well as monitoring all the operations.
This sits in the perfect position at the front of the new armrest that features the Powergrip controller and provides finger and thumb buttons for the most frequently used functions.
AGCO POWER 7.4 litre engines deliver a maximum power of 243hp (ISO) on the five-walker, MF ACTIVA 7345, while a 30hp boost for unloading takes the 276hp max power to 306hp on the MF ACTIVA 7347, which has six straw-walkers.
Both MF ACTIVA S combines are available with the addition of a Multi Crop Separator (MCS), which provides enhanced threshing while remaining gentle on the straw. A full maize kit or a universal concave can be installed for use in sunflower, maize or small grains. A special rice cylinder and peg and tooth option are also available.
Massey Ferguson is also introducing new features on the five-walker MF BETA 7360 and MF 7370, six-walker combine harvesters, which further enhance performance on these popular machines.
The latest MF BETA 7300 Series combines are powered by advanced six cylinder AGCO POWER engines, with the 330hp, 8.4 litre capacity version in the MF 7370 and PL models with 30hp of extra power for unloading. The 7.4 litre engine, powering the MF 7360 and PL generates 276hp for the machines plus 30hp boost.
A new option for the latest MF BETA combines is AutoGuide XLS automatic steering, which can provide accuracy down to 5cm to ensure the combine takes a full cut on each and every run.
All MF BETA six-walker combines benefit from a new six-row straw chopper, which is designed to provide the consistent chopping and spreading performance for users working with reduced tillage operations.
Both the MF BETA 7360 and MF 7370 combines are available with Massey Ferguson’s innovative ParaLevel front-axle system, which provides automatic side-to-side levelling across slopes of up to 20%. Using a novel parallelogram linkage, the compact and clever system connects the front wheel hubs to the chassis via a lower triangular-shaped bracket and a link arm above – forming a parallelogram shaped linkage.
The addition of the new ‘Integrale’ option to PL combines provides complete levelling. This raises and lowers the rear of the machine to compensate for working on slopes – providing uphill levelling of up to 30% as well as the standard 20% side to side compensation. Four-wheel drive is standard on all PL and PLi models.
By: Robert C. Brown, Director, and Robert Mills, Communications Specialist, Bioeconomy Institute, Iowa State University
The use of fermentation to produce ethanol from corn and other biomass is well known in the agricultural world. There are, however, other technologies that can convert biomass into fuels and chemicals. Foremost among these are thermochemical processes, which use heat and catalysis to break down biomass to intermediates that can be upgraded to transportation fuels.
One advantage of thermochemical processing is that the end result can be “drop-in fuels,” those that are fully compatible with the existing fuel infrastructure. While not perfect, these drop-in fuels are good enough to run in today’s engines without modification.
Another advantage to thermochemical processing is that most systems can work with a variety of biomass feedstocks. Often the feedstock is lignocellulosic biomass, such as corn stover, switchgrass, miscanthus, wood, etc. But thermochemical processing can also use lipid-rich biomass such as distillers dried grains and algae as well as mixed wastes from commercial and municipal sources.
There are two basic types of thermochemical processing, indirect and direct liquefaction. Indirect liquefaction includes gasification, where the solid biomass is heated to create synthesis gas, or syngas, that is subsequently upgraded to liquid fuels. Various catalysts are then used to convert the gas into alcohols or hydrocarbons. The advantages of gasification is that the process produces a uniform product and it is commercially proven. Gasification, however, requires technologies to clean the gases, which are still under development, and the capital costs can be high.
Direct liquefaction uses heat and pressure to convert the biomass into liquids which can then be further upgraded into finished products. Direct liquefaction includes pyrolysis and solvent liquefaction. In the case of pyrolysis, biomass is heated in the absence of oxygen. The process yields bio-oil, syngas, and a solid product known as biochar. The bio-oil can be upgraded to drop-in fuels. Pyrolysis can be performed at relatively small scales, allowing it to take place close to the source of biomass rather than moving biomass to one large, centralized processing facility. One of the major problems with pyrolysis is that the bio-oil is unstable, complicating its conversion into fuels.
At Iowa State University, we have invented a process to condense the pyrolysis gases in fractions, resulting in better, more stable products. The economics of fast pyrolysis are promising. In addition to producing fuels and chemicals from the bio-oil, the biochar may also have economic value. Consisting mostly of carbon, biochar can be used a soil amendment, helping retain moisture and nutrients. There is also research underway to use biochar as a filter medium for purifying water.
Solvent liquefaction, or solvolysis, is similar to pyrolysis except that it is performed in a solvent at elevated pressure. Though the fundamental chemistry of solvolysis is not well understood, the technology has promising economics. The process can upgrade bio-oil in a way similar to oil refining, and it can create sugars which can be further upgraded without expensive enzymes.
In addition to extensive research into thermochemical technologies, there are also many efforts underway to commercialize these technologies. Like all start-ups, these efforts have met with various degrees of success. There are, however, several pilot-scale systems being tested and commercial plants being built.
Bioenergy is a complex topic. There are many pathways from raw material to finished product. What’s more, bioenergy technology must be viewed in context of larger energy issues and policies. You can learn more in a book written for the general public, “Why are We Producing Biofuels,” by Robert C. Brown and Tristan R. Brown. The book is available on Amazon. You can read the first chapter for free online at: http://www.brownia.com/content/whyareweproducingbiofuels_excerpt.pdf.
Little known to our dealers and for many of our employees is the fact that our large square baler, the 2170XD and now the 2270XD, is recognized as the “King of Collection” for the baling of corn stover and wheat straw for the fledgling cellulosic ethanol industry. For over 5 years, AGCO has been working with both leading industry and university associates to develop an economical biomass feedstock supply chain. Now our balers are the centerpiece of the supply chain critical to the success of the first 3 major projects for the industry. These three projects are Abengoa’s Hugoton, KS project; Dupont’s Nevada, IA project; and POET/DSM’s project in Emmetsburg, IA. Each one is making ethanol from corn stover. Taken together these projects will require over 1,000,000 dry tons of material or roughly 1.8 million bales of which over 1.5 million will be large squares. With the corn harvest lasting only 6-8 weeks, to say there is intense activity for the baling of corn stover is a huge understatement.
Whether collecting this material for his or her self or having a professional harvester do it, this is a source of additional income for our farmers. Data has also shown an additional benefit resulting from this undertaking of residue management. With corn yields continually increasing, our farmers are producing rising amounts of corn stover as well. In fact so much residue is available after harvest that leaving it all on the field is not providing the same benefit it has in the past. The evidence is clear that removing some of the stover results in better yields in a corn on corn rotation. Uniformity of seed placement and depth, faster soil warming, less nitrogen fixing and less disease all help increase yields from 5-10%; this with the added benefit of less tilling.
Last year, during the 2013 corn harvest we had over 100 of our 2170’s and 2170XD’s at work making over 1,000,000 bales of corn stover for the ethanol industry. This amounted to over 90% of the large square balers working in this market. AGCO is working through product development to continue to improve our large square baler to support this dynamic new industry and our farmers. Better densities; data acquisition, management and evaluation; all helping to improve the operators of our equipment; and producing the most reliable and efficient large square baler in the market. This makes it easy to understand why our large square baler is considered the “King of Collection”.
If you would like to learn more about AGCO’s Biomass Solutions, please visit: www.bit.ly/AGCOBiomass.