Farm Journal Exclusive: Cash for Cobs

November 2, 2008 06:00 PM

Jeanne Bernick, Farm Journal Crops & Issues Editor
Corn cobs could soon contribute to the nation's fuel supply. Poet is currently expanding its corn ethanol facility in Emmetsburg, Iowa, into one of the world's first cellulosic ethanol plants. Once complete in 2011, Project Liberty, will produce 125 million gallons of ethanol per year, with 25 million gallons coming from corn cobs.
The facility will need more than 700 tons of cobs and fiber per day to fuel its cellulosic ethanol plant. That's about 275,000 acres of corn cobs annually, says Jim Sturdevant, directory of Project Liberty. Farmers will play a key role in the success of cob harvest and cellulosic ethanol production, Sturdevant adds.
Photos: Jason Pirtle 

Currently, there is limited farm machinery available to harvest, handle or store corn cobs, but Sturdevant says he is encouraged by how agricultural equipment manufacturers are stepping up to the challenge of developing machinery.
Equipment manufacturers collaborating with Poet on Project Liberty include Case IH, John Deere, Claas, Vermeer, AGCO and Demco. Many of these companies will be showing their prototype equipment for harvesting corn cobs on Nov. 6 at the Project Liberty Field Day. Farm Journal will be there to cover the event, so watch for future issues of the magazine and also online at for more information.
Many companies, like grain handling systems manufacturer Demco, have spent the past year working closely with Poet to address farmer harvest concerns with cobs. Demco is developing a 2-SKU grain/cob cart that would be able to receive both grain and cobs from the combine, but would require only one cart operator. 
Photos: Jason Pirtle  

Ideally, the Demco 2-SKU cart works with a combine that harvests corn into its grain tank and cobs into a cob harvest machine pulled behind the combine.
When the combine is full, it unloads corn into the main Demco grain cart. An attached second Demco cart then swings around to the side to allow the cob harvest machine to dump its contents into the Demco cob cart. Once complete, one operator hauls both carts to the edge of the field for unloading grain and cobs. All operator functions of the Demco 2-SKU cart are performed from the tractor seat.
For more on the latest in cob harvesting, pick up the mid-November and December 2008 issues of Farm Journal.

You can email Jeanne Bernick at

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