As part of its biomass initiative, AGCO Corporation is testing harvest equipment in corn stover, switchgrass, miscanthus and energy cane throughout North America, says Todd Stucke, the company’s director of hay and harvesting.

AGCO debuted a combine and large square baler combination prototype last January and expanded the testing and validation during the 2010 harvest, with additional units operating in various crops. This included acres contracted with POET’s Project Liberty. The Challenger 680B (Class 8) combine and LSB34B (3- x 4-ft.) baler single-pass system is capable of packaging nearly 1 dry ton of biomass/acre into bales weighing between 1,000 and 1,400 lbs.

The bale can be easily collected, transported and stored on the farm or at the ethanol producer, Stucke says. Compared to second-pass baling, the combination unit collects less tonnage per acre, but it produces a cleaner bale without dirt or other debris, he adds. By taking a high percentage of the available cob and just the top part of the corn plant in the single-pass system, the material baled represents a lower amount of phosphorous and potash content, which would need to be restored through fertilization, Stucke says.

The 2010 test season was very dry, much different from the wet conditions the Emmetsburg area experienced in 2009. “The product coming out of the balers this year was very good,” Stucke says. “The bales stacked well, which was also very good for storage.” AGCO also tested a LSB34B in second-pass baling behind a Gleaner S7 prototype combine in the Emmetsburg area.