Case IH meanwhile has been evaluating the economics and harvest capacity of multiple cornstalk- and cob-collection methods and is pursuing second-pass baling technology using round balers. Sam Acker, director of the company’s harvest marketing, notes that after taking into account a grower’s capital investment and operating costs, Case IH determined this was the best economic solution. The company determined that round balers have more versatility, which could mean better resale value than either cob carts or square balers in the Corn Belt, Acker says. Growers must evaluate payback on the equipment. If the market for biomass weakens, this could be a problem for single-purpose equipment like a cob cart, Acker says.

Pulling a large square baler behind the combine produces a dense package of biomass, but the large square balers also represent a significant investment and require higher horsepower to operate, Acker says. He adds that round balers are generally about a third of the cost of a large square baler and it makes more economic sense to make a second pass with a round baler. The grain harvest is more productive without the combine towing a cart or baler, which was evident during the 2009 harvest, Acker says.

Case IH is introducing the RB564 Premium baler for 2011. It features a five-bar pickup with reinforced rubber-mounted tines (60 teeth, 82 in. tine to tine). It also features a roller windguard, external expeller roll, front belt guides, pickup flares and a duckbill trash baffle brush.