Dealer design streamlines corn stover harvest
Pairing the ambitious 2022 Renewable Fuels Standard with $50 to $60 per ton farmgate prices for crop residue is inspiring new ways to harvest fuel stocks.
Jim Straeter, of New Holland Rochester Inc., in Rochester, Ind., saw the potential for his customers to benefit from a collection system mounted on the combine. The system not only works for corn stover harvest but also when baling residue to use for livestock rations and bedding.
The Cornrower attachment mounts between the header and the combine. The attachment catches the corn stover underneath the header, sizes it and then forms a windrow behind the combine. It fits on a New Holland 99C chopping corn head and has been tested on New Holland CR combines equipped with the high-speed header drive.
Straeter partners with Craig Welding of Mentone, Ind., to manufacture the unit, which he has been testing since the 2009 harvest season.
"After each season, I’ve been able to make improvements based on what we saw in the field," Straeter says. "Now, I think we have the overall platform for the system set."
The system has two main parts: blades with wings that are mounted under the stalk rolls and within a housing, and two conveyors that move the chopped stover to a location under the feeder house. One blade is 6" higher than the other, which provides even chopping and airflow. The air moves the stover to a deflector, which directs the material onto a conveyor that carries it to the center of the combine. Material coming out of the combine at the rear falls on top of the windrow formed by the corn head.
One aspect Straeter has been working on is how to easily engage and disengage the system based on location in the field.
"I want this system to be able to collect up to 100% of the stover, yet be able to put back on the ground whatever percent of the material the grower needs returned," Straeter says.
Operators can unload grain on the go and maneuver around obstacles, as with any combine. Grain quality is unaffected by the Cornrower, and the system’s design eliminates dirt mixing into the windrow. Since the stover is chopped, drydown time is less.
The windrow can be baled with a round or large square baler or chopped with a forage harvester. Tests have found a 20% moisture level in the windrow, which is ideal for baling. In his harvesting trials, Straeter has been able to maintain a 2-ton-per-acre average for stover collection.
Testing at 4 mph with an eight-row head shows the add-on kit adds less than 3 gal. of fuel usage per hour compared with running a standard nonchopping corn head. In some conditions, the Cornrower has no impact on harvest speeds, and in others a reduction of up to 20% has been experienced.
The rotor and housing weigh about 60 lb. per row unit and the conveyors are additional weight. A patent for the Cornrower was issued in December 2010 by the U.S. Patent Office.