Tuthill Industries is demonstrating a Bale Direct system they're manufacturing around the Midwest this fall. They will even take it to Iowa to demonstrate for POET, the large ethanol company. It's even showing up this week at a demonstration for a plant that wants to make anhydrous from cellulose. The tie is obvious- if cellulosic ethanol takes off, the companies will need a supply, and corn stover and/or cobs are one possible feedstock.
So some of the people at the demonstration near the plant outside Brookston last week were there because they believe cellulosic ethanol will take off, even though it's in its infancy today, and progress seems slow. Others with various interests were in the crowd too.
One person wants to start a business where he cubes up big square bales and sells them to utilities to burn with coal. The idea is reducing emissions problems that accompany burning coal. That possible use is so new he couldn't even say much about it. Tests are underway now.
Others were there because they sue big bales, even of corn stalks, as feed for beef cattle. They wanted to know if this was a way of making bales without getting the dirt and rocks that you sometimes get if you let residue hit the ground, then either cut it or rake and bale it directly. With most conventional rakes, dirt in bales can be a problem. Since the residue never hits the ground with the bale Direct system, it eliminates dirt problems, and any chance of problems with rocks. The conveyor taking residue and cobs from the rear of the combine feeds directly into the baler. It's also easier on the tines of balers, which don't have to contend with tough stalk stubs left in the field.
Perhaps one of the most unusual uses has helped fuel production of the system overseas. Tuthill personnel say that in some countries, they use the system when combining wheat to help control resistant weeds. Apparently, weed seed falls into a pan under the conveyor belt. It can be emptied and the seed burned. The bales can also be disposed of. Instead of harvesting it for use, they harvest it to prevent leaving resistant weeds behind in the field, and risk the fact that they could spread both within the field and to other locations.