20 January 2020
Fiber sorghum enjoys the status of a highly diverse food, feed, and biofuel source worldwide. The natural attributes like abiotic stress tolerance, diverse genetic base, viable seed industry, and sound breeding system make sorghum a perfect candidate for establishing an efficient and low-cost biofuel industry. In this regard during the project AGROinLOG a technical tour was organized in Italy for partners with the scope to investigate the supply chain of Fiber sorghum for energy production in Italy, from the harvesting to the transformation. This feedstock is actually cultivated in Italy to feed a 15 MW biomass power plant. To this day, machines derived from haymaking or from mower conditioners, hay rakes and balers have been used for this purpose. However, according to various Research Institutes that have carried out Fiber Sorghum harvesting tests with machines for the haymaking, the conditioning resulted not always satisfactory as it extended the times required for the field drying process with the risk to postpone the harvesting and ruin the product in the case of rainfalls. For this reason, today COPROB, the farmer cooperative involved in the biomass recovery uses two different harvesting machines: a shredder and a conditioner. During the harvesting the biomass moisture content is about 70%. After the windrowing phase, when the moisture content reaches 15-20 %, the material is baled with conventional prismatic baler. All the logistic chain costs represent around 30 €/t (including harvesting, windrowing, baling and transport for maximum distances of 50 km). COPROB purchases the material to the logistic operators at 50 €/t (plant gate price) considering 75 % of dry matter.