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Site Characteristics and Harvestable Biomass with a Biobaler on Abandoned Farmland

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

Citation:  Paper number  141913564,  2014 Montreal, Quebec Canada July 13 – July 16, 2014. (doi: 10.13031/aim.20141913564) @2014
Authors:   François-Simon Robert, Philippe Savoie, Steeve Pepin, Pierre Luc Hébert
Keywords:   Abandoned farmland, invasive, soil, allometry, scrub, biobaler, biomass recovery.

Abstract. A previously cultivated agricultural field, abandoned for 20 years, was monitored in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures (Quebec, Canada) in summer 2011 to identify natural species and estimate biomass. Aboveground biomass of 11 native woody crop species was modeled by prediction equations as a function of base diameter and breast-height diameter (allometric models). Average coefficient of determination (R²) was 0.93. A large proportion of the biomass was harvested with a biobaler in fall 2011. The harvester was capable of cutting and processing most stems up to a maximum base diameter of 100 mm. A total of 62 bales weighing from 311 to 611 (average 413) kg wet matter were harvested on an effective area of 2.2 ha. Moisture content ranged from 38.7 to 53.8% (average 44.4%). Harvested yield ranged from 3.3 to 9.6 (average 6.4) t dry matter (DM)/ha. The biobaler recovered 44 to 73% of the available biomass on the area where machinery traffic was possible. The non recovered biomass was composed mainly of residues left on the ground after harvest. Results showed that native species had low productivity (1 t DM/ha/year). Mechanical harvesting could not be completed on part of the originally designated harvest area because of swamp conditions, rocks, ditches and big trees with stem diameters greater than 100 mm. The biobaler was able to harvest between 0.19 and 0.28 ha per productive machine hour (average 0.20 ha/PMH). The study provides additional information on soil physical and chemical properties. The technical data can be useful for future decision-making related to various options when converting abandoned farmland back into productive land. Various options such as harvest, mulching or prescribed burning have changing values as the need for biomass and bioenergy from new sources increases over time.

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