The aim is to determine how the timing of the harvest operation affects crop quality, costs, re-growth potential and sustainability and to identify the extent at which year round supply with minimal storage capacities may be possible via extended harvest windows for each crop. As an outcome, there will be data available on all crop quality, financial and sustainability aspects of harvest timing which will be used for Supply Chain Integration and Optimisation. A decision tool, underpinned by a robust data set, for harvesting systems (machinery and management) as part of an improved logistics chain for biomass energy crops will also be developed.
A field experiment will be established in which a SRC crop is cut at the conventional winter timing and in summer. Parallel experiments will be established with Giant Reed, Miscanthus and Sorghum Plots. Evaluation of field losses at different harvest time will be carried out in order to provide further data for the soil carbon budget by monitoring harvested plots. In all these crops the nutrient content of the harvested material will be measured to quantify losses from the field. For SRC crops this will be done in the summer and winter of the inter-harvest years.