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Single- and Two-Pass Corn Grain and Stover Harvesting

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 55(2): 341-350. (doi: 10.13031/2013.41372) @2012
Authors:   K. J. Shinners, R. G. Bennett, D. S. Hoffman
Keywords:   Biomass, Corn grain, Corn stover, Density, Feedstock, Particle size

To improve the performance of a single-pass combine used to harvest corn grain and stover, the flail chopper used to process the stover on previous harvester iterations was replaced with forage harvester feedroll and cutterhead components. The change from the flail chopper to the precision-cut stover processor increased area productivity from 1.4 to 2.2 ha h-1, decreased specific fuel consumption from 33.4 to 20.9 L ha-1 and decreased grain lost to the stover from 8.2% to 3.9%. However, the single-pass stover system was still 39% less productive than the conventional grain harvest system, and the system was challenged by difficulties with handling grain and stover at the same time. To overcome these problems, an alternative approach was considered in which windrows of stover were formed at the time of grain harvest, followed by stover harvest in a second-pass. Modifications were made to a corn header to gather the stalks and leaves and form them into a windrow. The cob and husk were then placed on top of the windrow as this material was ejected from the combine. Because the cob was placed on top of the windrow, 94% of the available cob was harvested, compared to 48% for the conventional system in which stover was shredded and raked after grain harvest. Because the two-pass system did not involve forming windrows by displacing stover across the ground, the ash content was 40% less than with conventional stover harvest practices. The area productivity at grain harvest of the two-pass system was 9% less than that of the conventional harvest system. The total specific fuel consumption to harvest grain and stover for the single- and two-pass systems was 1.38 and 1.81 L Mg-1 DM harvested, respectively. Harvesting merged windrows increased forage harvester mass flow by 67% and reduced specific fuel consumption by 39%, which decreased the difference in energy input between the single- and two-pass systems. The two-pass system required two fewer operations compared to conventional stover harvest practices. The formation of windrows at grain harvest allows for manipulation of moisture by field drying and may make packaging in dry bales possible compared to the single-pass system.

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