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Adaptability of Chopper Harvester in Harvesting Sugarcane, Energy Cane, and Banagrass

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

Citation:  2015 ASABE Annual International Meeting  152157706.(doi:10.13031/aim.20152157706)
Authors:   Shaochun Ma, Patrick A. Scharf, Manoj Karkee, Qin Zhang
Keywords:   energy crop; chopper harvester; adaptability; stubble leaning angles; off-track errors; biomass recovery rate; field efficiency

Abstract. Energy crops are important sources of feedstock for biofuel production. Feedstock cost, accounting for more than 50% of biofuel operating cost, plays a significant role in the commercialization of biofuels. Energy crop harvesting cost is the biggest single contributor of the total feedstock production cost. Thus investigation of harvesters to improve productivity and efficiency, hence reducing costs, is important for biofuel production. The performance of an existing sugarcane harvester was evaluated in terms of biomass recovery rate and field efficiency to assess its adoptability for energy cane harvesting. The harvester performance was compared in Hawaii fields with three different types of energy crops: energy cane, banagrass, and sugarcane. The biomass recovery rates achieved by the harvester were 83.0%, and 86.6%, and 52.3% respectively for energy cane, banagrass and sugarcane whereas the field efficiencies were 86.2%, 80.6%, and 59.6% respectively. The recovery rates in harvesting energy cane and banagrass were higher than the reference recovery rate of 73% provided by literature. Similarly, nominal field efficiency for a harvester provided by literature is 70%. The sugarcane harvester used in this work achieved higher field efficiency with energy cane and banagrass harvesting compared to the ASABE standard. Additionally, the limitations of existing machines in harvesting energy crops were analyzed to identify the main factors limiting biomass recovery rate and field efficiency. It was found that stubble leaning angles and machine off-track errors will affect most in the harvester’s recovery rate, and plugging issues will affect the field efficiency the most.

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