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Modified Baler Harvests Willow, Poplar Trees
Round bale furnace owners will soon have a new long-burning fuel to use.
  If you've got at least a 130 hp tractor and bushy wasteland, such as the willow-growing areas surrounding bogs or sloughs, you're all set to use the new WB55 Biobaler. Trees can also be cultivated for baling.
  The patented Biobaler will harvest young willow, aspen, alder and poplar, converting standing trees up to 4-in. dia. into compacted, netted, round bales that handle like conventional round bales.
  The bales dry out completely after about six months in storage and, depending on the end use, can be burned, chipped or pelletized at various stages of drying.
  The one-pass harvester was invented in Quebec by Philippe Savoie, Luc D'Amours and FrÚdÚric Lavoie. Commercialization is being handled by D'Amours and Lavoie through their company, FLD Biomass Technology.
  The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) Shelterbelt Centre in Indian Head, Sask., tested the first willow baler prototype in the fall of 2007 and is continuing to evaluate it this year. The inventors also ran some trials in Florida and Georgia.
  The first prototype can bale 3-in. dia. trees, including the occasional one with a 4-in. dia., but the inventors are currently building a heavier, second prototype that can handle a steady supply of 4-in. dia. trees. They expect this prototype to be ready in late August and have plans to demonstrate it in the U.S. in October.
  The PFRA-tested unit produces bales weighing between 770 and 880 lbs. It's a modified New Holland BR 740 round baler. Instead of a standard windrow pickup in front, it's fitted with heavy flail knives that turn on a 2,200-rpm rotor. The shredder breaks down the trunks/stems so they're flexible before they enter the bale chamber for wrapping.
  "We harvested in the fall when all the leaves were shed. It took an average of two minutes to produce a 48-in. dia. bale. They handle in the same way as regular bales and store well," PFRA manager Bill Schroeder says.
  Lavoie points out that the Biobaler can be used to harvest trees any time during the year, and although bales made from trees in the leafed-out stage have a slightly higher moisture content, there haven't been any heating or mold problems.
  The Biobaler's drawbar is offset from the tractor so you don't drive over the willows and it swivels on the hitch for either left or right side operation.
  For at least the past 15 or 20 years, willow plantations have been well established in Europe, the UK and Sweden as a heat source, a biomass for electrical generation, and also as a feed source. Evaluation there has shown that it's better than grain straw or switch grass because it's much cleaner burning and more efficient.
  Lavoie says the retail price for the WB55 Biobaler is estimated to be about $112,000 (Canada) plus S&H.
  The inventors have appointed Supertrak Inc. of Punta Gorda, Fla. as their U.S. distributor. Canadian inquiries can be directed to FLD Biomass Technology.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, FLD Biomass Technology, 5125, De la Plaisance, Chesterville, Q.C., Canada G0P 1J0 (ph 819 382-2952; www.fldbiomass.com); or Supertrak, Inc., 26855 Airport Rd, Punta Gorda, Fla. 33982 (ph 800 446-9858 or 941 505-7800; www.supertrak.com).

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2008 - Volume #32, Issue #4