Miscanthus harvesting and supply chain

The objective of this task is to demonstrate (at pilot-scale) the new supply chain for the perennial energy crop – Miscanthus. Best practices and technologies related with Miscanthus fertilization, crop management, harvesting, storage, transportation and pelletization in treatment plant will be selected and adapted for demonstration on current Miscanthus cultivation area in Burgundy Pellets operated fields. The timing of Miscanthus harvesting is a key parameter to optimize biomass drying and subsequently handling and transport to the processing unit. The aim is to permit on-field drying, avoiding the need of forced dry operations, which dramatically affect the product cost. The best harvesting periods will be demonstrated on 15 ha of Miscanthus (approx, 10 plots of 1.5 ha each on average). The demonstration consists of improved harvesting periods and conditions, bundling, storing and road transport of Miscanthus bales to the conversion plant.
The demonstration work will be monitored and analysed by the scientists. Besides the economic issues, sustainability will also be addressed in the demonstration, focusing on the environmental aspects. Energy consumption and GHG emissions will be measured and monitored in order to verify the improvements.

The demonstration will be carried out in the Burgundy region in Eastern France with the participation of Bourgogne Pellets (BP), a farmers’ cooperative of about 350 farmers. BP currently grows 400 ha of Miscanthus and 300 ha of Switchgrass, established on arable land formerly used to grow sugar beet, in the vicinity of Aizeray. This company is producing pellets from Miscanthus intended for the animal litters (horses, cats, rodents), but also for horticultural mulching to substitute weed-killers.

Project partners will produce recommendations on the most suitable technologies for the Miscanthus supply chain covering cultivation, harvesting, storing and transport to processing plant, and quality management system for Miscanthus.

Expected outcome:

  1. Decreased cultivation costs of Miscanthus are decreased by better crop management
  2. Decreased harvesting costs through more efficient machinery and lower number of field operations
  3. Improved biomass quality and lower energy losses through new storage system and the use of a quality control system
  4. New opportunities for the agriculture sector providing an example of how an agriculture cooperative can be reconverted into a biomass supply company for a range of Bioenergy and Biomaterials end-users.