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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVEMENT OF DAIRY FORAGE AND MANURE MANAGEMENT TO REDUCE ENVIRONMENTAL RISK Title: Production costs of potential corn stover harvest and storage systems

Authors
item VADAS, PETER
item Digman, Matthew

Submitted to: Biomass and Bioenergy
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 23, 2013
Publication Date: April 21, 2013
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/56512
Citation: Vadas, P.A., Digman, M.F. 2013. Production costs of potential corn stover harvest and storage systems. Biomass and Bioenergy. 54:133-139.

Interpretive Summary: Corn stover has potential as a bioenergy feedstock in North America. Research has focused on developing harvest systems that reduce the number of field operations, increase harvest efficiency, and decrease costs and fuel use. We used an engineering approach to estimate production costs and fuel use for several corn and corn stover harvest options (three-pass and two-pass with baling and chopping of stover, and single-pass with grain and stover being harvested at the same time) and storage options (outdoor and indoor dry bales, outdoor wrapped bales, and chopped stover in bags, bunks, or piles). The cheapest system was single-pass, whole-plant harvest with outdoor wrapped bales of stover. The next cheapest systems (all at 10-12% more) were the two-pass bale harvest and outdoor wrapped bale storage, the two-pass chop and bag storage, and the three-pass bale harvest and outdoor wrapped bale storage. The three-pass chop harvest with silage bag storage and the single-pass ear-snap harvest with silage bag storage had 17% greater costs than the least cost system. All harvest and storage systems have tradeoffs, and several systems can be economically and logistically viable, which can give farmers flexibility to participate in and profit from a stover collection market.

Technical Abstract: Corn stover has potential as a bioenergy feedstock in North America. Here we compared production costs for various corn stover harvest (three-pass and two-pass with baling and chopping, and single-pass) and storage options (outdoor and indoor dry bales, outdoor wrapped bales, and chopped stover in bags, bunks, or piles). For three- and two-pass harvest, baling was 9% more expensive per Mg than chopping. For baling and chopping, a two-pass harvest was 5% cheaper per Mg than three-pass. The single-pass harvests were 15-35% cheaper per Mg than the three-pass harvests, and 11-33% cheaper per Mg than two-pass. For single-pass, an ear-snap header harvest was 17% cheaper than a whole-plant harvest. For bales, outdoor storage of wrapped bales was the cheapest storage. Outdoor dry bale storage, even with 12% dry matter loss, was cheaper than indoor storage. For chopped stover, storage in bags was always cheapest, followed by large piles, and then bunkers. For bags, piles, and bunkers, storage cost per Mg was related to the amount of stover harvested. When both harvest and storage were considered together, the cheapest system was single-pass, whole-plant harvest with outdoor wrapped bales. The next cheapest systems (all at 10-12% more per Mg) were the two-pass bale harvest and outdoor wrapped bale storage, the two-pass chop and bag storage, and the three-pass bale harvest and outdoor wrapped bale storage. The three-pass chop harvest with silage bag storage and the single-pass ear-snap harvest with silage bag storage had 17% greater costs per Mg than the least cost system. Overall, our stover harvest and storage analysis suggests all harvest and storage systems have tradeoffs and several systems can be economically and logistically viable.

Last Modified: 8/19/2014
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