(27f) Performance and Logistics of a Forage Harvester and Collection System in Short Rotation Willow Crops

Volk, T. A., State University of New York - College of Environmental Science & Forestry
Eisenbies, M., State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Souza, D. P. D., State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Therasme, O., State University of New-York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Hallen, K., State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Demand for renewable energy in the United States is at its highest and is projected to increase. Bioenergy sourced from perennial energy crops is expected to be an important resource and short rotation woody crops (SRWC) such as shrub willow and hybrid poplar have shown great potential in their respective regions in terms of biomass production and job creation while also providing environmental benefits. However, ambitious cost targets have been set for bioenergy crops in order for them to compete with other sources of energy. Harvesting and logistics continue to comprise the largest portion of costs associated with SRWC production. While studies have identified key factors affecting system performance (e.g. machine type, horsepower, standing biomass, operator experience), few studies have sought collected and complied this information from commercial scale operations. This initiative is focused collecting field data from commercial scale willow harvesting operations, providing it to modeling teams who then provide direct feedback on the operation of the system, ways to optimize it and reduce overall costs. Harvests were conducted over 20 days on ten, three-year-old shrub willow fields in Northern New York State using two New Holland FR-Series forage harvesters equipped with FB130 coppice headers. These single pass cut and chip systems harvest the willow, chip it and blown the chips into collection wagons pulled by tractors. The harvesters and wagons were equipped with GPS units and wagon loads of chips were weighed. Data is processed to compare harvester performance (effective material capacity, field capacity, fuel consumption, engine loading) and collection system performance related to harvester power, operator experience, standing biomass, and field conditions. The amount of harvested biomass ranged from 15 to 80 Mg ha-1. Mean material capacity of the harvester filling wagons was approximately 30 Mg hr-1, but exceeded 60 Mg hr-1 for fresh biomass. Mean material capacity of the collection system delivering biomass to short-term storage was approximately 15 Mg hr-1, but could exceed 30 Mg hr-1, which is an improvement over earlier trials. Bulk density of willow chips ranged between approximately 175 and 325 kg m-3 with significant differences between collection vehicles. Results were shred with modelers who are using the data to identify ways to optimize the system and reduce the cost of harvesting and logistics.