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.
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.”
Watch 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.
Horseradish thrives in deep, sandy soil, the kind you find in America’s bottomlands, including third-generation farmer Barry McMillin’s 1,200 acres near Caseyville, Ill.
“German immigrants lived in this area,” McMillin says, “so it’s a tradition to grow horseradish here.” Today, he’s one of about a dozen larger-scale growers left in North America, because raising and harvesting the pungent roots, which belong to the cabbage family, is so labor-intensive.
“It’s backbreaking work,” he says of growing the plants on his land, Bluff View Farm. “You almost have to be born into it, because not everybody has the tools or the wherewithal to attack a crop like this. It’s not like corn or soybeans, and there’s not a lot of technical data or research on ‘how-to.’”
For McMillin, planting typically starts in March and April, but wet weather hampered efforts last year and planting wasn’t concluded until the first of June. “We like to have them in the ground by May 1, ideally, to have your best yield. Horseradish is similar to corn in that respect. You don’t want to plant too late because it starts taking off yield right away,” he says.
Planting is done with broken lateral roots and branch roots from selected stock. McMillin plants the roots in 36-inch rows, 18 to 24 inches apart, and hills them up like potatoes.
When he fertilizes, McMillin uses potash, phosphate and some nitrogen. “We’re heavier on potash than any other soil amendment. It’s a fertilizing program similar to what’s used for soybeans.”
During the growing season, horseradish foliage can reach 3 feet tall, and it’s hard to get off until there’s a heavy frost. McMillin hasn’t had much luck using the tops as cattle feed. “The tops have a pungent smell, like the roots, so it’s probably just not tasty to the cattle.”
With so few growers, there’s not a lot of buyers for horseradish harvesting equipment, so McMillin and other producers often assemble their own, modifying tools and equipment used for other crops. “We use a converted potato harvester,” he says. “But we have to beef up the frame because we dig 16 inches down—much deeper than potato farmers—and have heavier soils.”
McMillin says horseradish growers like his father used a bottom plow and harvested the roots with a potato fork to load onto wagons. Today, McMillin uses forklifts and two Massey Ferguson® 4243 tractors.
“We need a 150-HP tractor to pull the two-row potato harvester we modified. Alongside the digger, we have a dump cart that takes 80 to 100 HP. It catches the horseradish from the harvester. We elevate the cart to dump our loads over the side of the truck, so we don’t have to drive the truck through the field.”
The Massey Ferguson tractors provide the power McMillin needs. “I’ve had very good luck with Massey Ferguson equipment. I’ve owned at least four tractors and have leased some. They’ve been reliable, good tractors.”
Adds McMillin about his Massey Ferguson equipment: “I realize how much innovation they put into tractors. A lot of other companies use improvements that Massey came up with. They’ve always been a leader. It’s a good brand.”
Read the fully story at http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/horseradish-is-a-crop-with-punch/.
The RG700 self-propelled sprayer and Gleaner Super Series combines have been chosen as Agri Marketing magazine’s 2013 New Product of the Year and 2013 Product of the Year, respectively. AGCO is the first company in the 15-year history of the Agri Marketing product awards to take home both honors in a given year.
“Our panel of independent agriculture industry professionals chose these two innovative machines based on the value they provide to today’s farmers and the unique marketing approaches that have helped contribute to their success in our industry,” says Lynn Henderson, publisher of Agri Marketing. “The RG700 and Gleaner Super Series join a distinguished group of winners, all of which contribute to making growers more successful in producing feed, food and fiber for a growing world population.”
Agri Marketing’s 2013 New Product of the Year, the RG700 self-propelled sprayer, debuted this fall, proving the axiom that good things can come in small packages. The RG700 is a compact, 700-gallon tank machine that brings growers the benefits found in larger, professional-grade RoGator® sprayers.
The Tier 4 interim-compliant RG700 has an industry-leading AWD Smart Drive System™, even weight distribution and Parallel C-channel flex frame, providing consistent field speed without shifting, plus excellent traction with all four wheels remaining in constant contact with the ground. The result is a smooth ride and more precise product application, even under varying field conditions. Other key benefits include a powerful, yet fuel-efficient high-torque engine, adjustable track widths, and outstanding cab comfort and safety.
The Gleaner Super Series combine, Agri Marketing’s 2013 Product of the Year, was first introduced in 2010 with the S7 Super Series transverse rotary combine. Built to solve the challenges of greater yields, more residue, more acres and rising fuel costs, the S7 Super Series represented a large leap forward in harvesting capacity and efficiency, while reinforcing Gleaner’s reputation for durability, simplicity, low grain loss and very clean grain sample.
The new S8 Super Series, introduced in August 2013, takes harvesting technology even further — and includes the world’s first Class 8 transverse rotary combine. Built on the Optimum Harvesting Performance platform, the S8 Super Series is designed for ultimate efficiency and reduced parasitics. This drives horsepower to the rotor to process and thresh the crop, so growers can get more done while burning less fuel. The S8 Series features the lightest Class 6 through 8 combines on the market, and provides growers with unmatched grain quality and great throughput.
“We are incredibly honored that these products have been recognized for their innovation and value to agricultural producers,” says Bob Crain, senior vice president and general manager for AGCO North America. “In 2007, AGCO began an era of significant investment in new-product research and development, driven by listening to the needs of our customers in the United States and Canada. The innovations these products deliver are a result of that investment, plus a lot of hard work. We’re proud these products provide producers with the solutions they need.”
Full details about the products and the marketing case studies behind them are available in the November/December issue of Agri Marketing magazine. For more information on the RG700, visit www.applylikeapro.com/RG700. For more information about Gleaner combines or to find a dealer near you, visit www.GleanerCombines.com.
The Massey Ferguson MF DELTA combine harvester has won the prestigious Machine of the Year Award at the Agritechnica Show in Hannover.
“Massey Ferguson is now reaping the reward of our investment in developing new and innovative harvesting machinery,” said Richard Markwell, Vice-President and Managing Director, Massey Ferguson, Europe, Africa and Middle East.
“We are very proud to receive the Machine of the Year Award I and must thank all our colleagues in the harvesting division for their innovative ideas, hard work and commitment that has resulted in this great achievement.
“Our clear goal is to deliver combine harvesters of the highest quality and upmost reliability. Our major investment in manufacturing and engineering development at Breganze is now delivering the results that have been recognised by this award,” he said.
The wide range of novel, innovative features on the MF DELTA combine help improve harvesting performance and increase efficiency while reducing power and fuel consumption.
AGCO’s New Zealand Dealers gathered recently in Addington, Christchurch, for comprehensive training in Advanced Technology Solutions (ATS) including System 110 Guidance, System 150 and System 350 Auto steering and AGCO’s telemetry system, Agcommand.
AGCO’s extensive dealer network gives farmers access to the resources and benefits of these new and emerging agricultural products. Dealer training empowers dealers with the knowledge and expertise needed to provide customers with high end precision farming solutions and the know how to suit progressive farmers. AGCO’s precision farming technologies enable farmers and contractors to optimise their operations, reduce input costs and achieve greater efficiency and profitability.
In New Zealand, the highly professional dealer group attending the training included dealer principals, sales staff and technical support staff. All were given the opportunity to evaluate the systems on display in real time with a mix of Valtra, Fendt and Massey Ferguson tractors equipped with AGCO’s technology products.
Taking an active role in enhancing dealers’ knowledge base, AGCO Australia’s ATS Product Manager, Jeremy Duniam, was pleased with the training that included classroom style learning as well as practical demonstrations of the products.
“The dealer training was extremely productive and was received very well by all participating. It is always rewarding to see dealer staff remain behind after the day sessions have finished to spend more time getting familiar with the systems. The dealer network in New Zealand is very professional in their approach. Their knowledge of ATS solutions will equip New Zealand farmers with innovative technology solutions, which is the future of farming.” Jeremy said.
This recent dealer training reflects AGCO’s commitment to and global emphasis on precision ag technology, recently launched as Fuse™ Technologies. To learn more about AGCO’s on and off board technologies and the Fuse technology strategy, visit http://www.agcocorp.com/products/precision_farming.aspx.