Innovative harvesting technology

The aim of this task was to propose developments to the existing harvesting technologies and systems. Such developments were tested on commercial fields and benchmarked in terms of throughput, labor intensity, fuel consumption and costs per ha. The results are reported in the following deliverable for willow SRC and this other deliverable for herbaceous crops.

Early generation harvesting technologies were mainly developed at larger scale (>€100k machines, >€250k harvesting systems), however, there is a need to replicate the best technologies at smaller scale (<€50k machines, <€150k harvesting systems) in order to adapt to smaller scale and dispersed production systems. Project partners Nobili and SSSA developed a prototype grass energy crop harvester that they had been considering prior to the project. The machine was relatively small scale, but they increased the capacity with changes to the cutting mechanism and the working width. It was applied to Sorghum, Miscanthus and Giant Reed, and the results are reported in this deliverable.

Project partners RRes and CRL improved the cutting head and the cutting mechanism of an existing smaller scale SRC harvester so that it presented the stems to the intake mechanism better and caused less damage to the stool and thereby re-growth potential. Its demonstration was reported in the following deliverable, together with the Nobili harvester for sorghum. Stool damage for the SRC harvester was assessed by non-destructive methods for measuring re-growth, and found to be manageable (see fact-sheet here). The project partner FCBA sketched small scale harvester to cut older coppice of approximately 5 season’s growth – its performance is reported in the following journal article: Chakroun et al., 2016, Biomass and Bioenergy.