Julie Kalista
Online Editor

Iowa State University researchers recently field-tested a system they're developing to harvest corn stover (the stalks, cobs and leaves) and grain with one pass through a field.
A dual-stream, single-pass harvester was developed by an associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering and his students at Iowa State University. It should collect the stalks, cobs, and leaves, which could be the source of plant fiber used to create ethanol.

The researchers are developing attachments for standard combines that could save farmers thousands of dollars by letting them harvest an entire field in one pass. The machine has a modified row-crop-header and corn-reel attached to the front and a chopper-and-blower on the back. The header and reel feed leaves and stalks into the combine so the biomass can be harvested before it touches the ground and is contaminated with soil. The chopper cuts it all up into 2-in. pieces and the blower throws them into a wagon.

Some of the challenges are increasing harvest capacity, economical transportation of the machine, and biomass storage.

This web-only article appears in the Mechanical Monthly e-mail newsletter. If you enjoyed this article and would like to read more like it, sign up today for our free e-mail newsletters!