20 January 2020
Currently, among residuals, only straw is usually baled and exploited for animal bedding or energy purposes. However, there is a considerable amount of lightweight biomass that is available but still not collected due to the small size. This kind of wheat residue normally left in the field can allow to increase the amount of biomass that can be collected, through the use of innovative machines often little known to stakeholders in most European countries, mainly because of the lack of reference markets capable of receiving the products collected. The harvesting of the cereal chaff can allow to harvest more than 2 tons of residue per hectare, depending on the productivity of the crop.
In the framework of AgroinLog project, field tests were carried out to provide deeper understanding on the matter. Conventional harvester combines have been equipped with devices capable to collect the chaff produced by various firms (Thievin, Thierart, Rekordverken and Agricinque of Racca companies) and used as usual for harvesting the grains. In the meanwhile, the performance of the machines was analysed in order to provide scientific evidence on the improvements than can be brought about by the improving of conventional harvesters with such devices. The whole supply chain has been also valuated under the economical point of view. In conclusion, the tests revealed that the total amount of residual biomass collectable from cereal crops can be improved by equipping conventional combine harvester with aftermarket devices. The purchase cost of Thievin, Thierart and Rekordverken devices is affordable and worthy due to the increase of sealable biomass on the market. On the other hand, Harcob system is more expensive and the system should be improved to collect chaff due to high chaff harvesting losses. Hopefully, the establishment of a proper supply chain for both chaff and maize cob would help to reduce the purchasing costs.