Oxbo is a common name in the seed corn and sweet corn industry. The legendary pickers used in those industries for years have roots in the company that produces Oxbo heads today. Recently, the company decided to bring out a corn head for use in the commercial corn harvest market. The folks that set up the Bale Direct demonstration at Tuthill Industries near Brookston rented a John Deere combine, attached a Massey-Ferguson/Hesston baler, then worked with the people at Oxbo to go with a 12-row corn head on the front of it.
One appealing thing about the new head is that it doesn't put as much residue in the form of stalks into bales as some other cornheads, Tuthill employees notes. If cellulosic ethanol takes off, that could be important, they note. Ethanol companies who want to make their product from corn residue bales will be more interested in bales with a higher content of cob and less stalk.
Bales aren't being processed directly for cellulosic ethanol now, because the market isn't there. But some of the bales made at Brooskton will be sent to Purdue University for further study. Researchers there want to know how well the bales will store, and what their value might be to a producer of cellulosic ethanol in the future.
Meanwhile, the Oxbo head features rubber belts on each row as gathering belts, rather than chains. It's part of the technology they've learned through handling sweet corn and seed corn in the specialized industries. The goal is to create less damage. Since chains aren't rattling on each row, the machine also runs quieter while operating in the field.
The picker rolls are also longer than on some conventional heads, company spokespersons say. The idea is to get the ear off the stalk as gently as possible.
The 12-row cornhead running on the rented combine that Tuthill Industries obtained to do demonstrations with its new Bale Direct product does not fold. It must be placed on a head carrier to be moved from field to field. There are folding, 12-row cornheads available on the market.
You can distinguish the head by its bright, yellow color. Once you inspect it, you'll find that several features are different. For example, stripper plates adjust on both sides of the row, not just one, as is common on many other models of cornheads.