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Harvest storage and handling of round and square bales of giant reed and switchgrass: An economic and technical evaluation

Martelli, Roberta, Bentini, Marco, Monti, Andrea
Biomass and bioenergy 2015 v.83 pp. 551-558
Arundo donax, Panicum virgatum, balers, biomass, economic analysis, harvesting, perennials, shredding, tractors
This study evaluated an innovative collection system for biomass based on single-pass harvesting to reduce handling and storage costs. Trials were conducted on two herbaceous perennials: giant reed (Arundo donax L.) and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.). A technical and economic evaluation compared two single-pass harvesting systems in which the biomass was cut-shredded-baled in the same operation. The two systems were composed of a Nobili biotriturator (for biomass shredding and windrowing) front-mounted on a 4-wheel-drive tractor and two types of balers: a KUHN VB2160 round baler and a KUHN LSB 1290 large square baler. Costs of harvesting, handling, storage and delivery to the conversion plant were evaluated. Three distances of delivering were considered (0–20; 20–40; 40–60 km). It was estimated that the harvesting system could produce round bales of switchgrass and giant reed stored in-field under a plastic tarp at a cost of 22.3 € Mg−1 and 23.3 € Mg−1 dry and square bales at 26.0 € Mg−1 and 21.7 € Mg−1 for switchgrass and giant reed respectively. The costs of harvesting, handling, in-field storage and delivery to the conversion plant amounted to 43.7 € Mg−1 and 45.7 € Mg−1 dry for round bales and 43.1 € Mg−1 dry and 34.9 € Mg−1 for square bales of switchgrass and giant reed for delivery distances of less than 20 km.