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Project Liberty Field Day In Emmetsburg November 3

By Staff | Oct 29, 2009

Project LIBERTY Field Day 2009 will be a testament to progress in making corn cob harvesting easier and more profitable.

Farmers last year who kicked the tires on prototype machinery will be treated to new methods and new equipment for getting feedstock out of the fields for use to produce cellulosic ethanol at POET Biorefining – Emmetsburg on Tuesday starting at 10 a.m.

They’ll also get details on how to cash in on incentives at the front- and back-end of the process.

“The government, the equipment manufacturers, POET and the area farmers are committed to making cellulosic ethanol production happen,” Project LIBERTY Director Jim Sturdevant said. “We’ve all moved forward significantly since last year, and the farmers will definitely see that at LIBERTY Field Day.”

Also, last year’s event was dampened, literally, by sleet and rain that sidelined equipment and forced the cancellation of field demonstrations. Sturdevant has high hopes that this year farmers will get to see the machinery in action during the scheduled demonstrations.

New methods,

new equipment

The 2008 field day featured three methods for harvesting cobs: a tow-behind cob collection device, a corn/cob mix system and a John Deere harvester that attached to the combine and funneled cobs into a separate cart. Eleven companies participated, including support companies with carts and corn heads.

New this year will be baler systems from AGCO and Case IH. The AGCO system will be demonstrated at the event, while Case IH will show examples of its bales.

Project LIBERTY Field Day will again feature tow-behind cob collection devices (from Case IH, Redekop and Vermeer) and a corn/cob mix system (from Case IH) as well as a new John Deere harvester. Those systems have all been upgraded, with improved cob collection rates and durability over last year’s prototypes.

“These are not the same systems that farmers saw last year,” Sturdevant said. “They’re new and improved in every case.”

Altogether, 16 companies will be involved, including companies showcasing carts, corn heads and trailers.

Money to farmers for equipment, biomass

The equipment will be the most visible component of the event, but just as significant will be the incentives for getting that equipment into specific farmer’s fields and collecting the biomass.

POET recently secured an increase in grant funding from the Department of Energy of $6.85 million with another $13.15 million on the way. That money is specifically geared toward biomass, with a large portion to help farmers procure equipment.

“This is an incentive at the outset,” Sturdevant said. “This gets you in the game.”

DOE will have representatives attending Tuesday to help answer farmers’ questions.

Once harvesting begins, farmers will reap the benefits of a program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture called the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP).

“This program augments biomass payments from the biorefinery,” Sturdevant said. “It’s a dollar-for-dollar match up to $45 per ton total.”

Farmers can participate in BCAP for two years. USDA representatives will be at Project LIBERTY Field Day to discuss BCAP with area farmers and answer any questions.

With so many equipment options, the mix of incentives and all the logistical questions farmers might have regarding cob harvesting, the process can be intimidating. And that, Sturdevant says, is why POET Biomass, a division created this year at POET, exists.

“They are there to be a one-stop shop to assist in those decisions and guide you through those incentives,” he said.

POET Biomass will have a booth at Project LIBERTY Field Day with representatives ready to provide more details on cob harvesting and how farmers can get involved.