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The Viability of Harvesting Corn Cobs and Stover for Biofuel Production in North Dakota

Thein Maung and Cole Gustafson

No 103613, 2011 Annual Meeting, July 24-26, 2011, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from Agricultural and Applied Economics Association

Abstract: This study examines the impact of stochastic harvest field time, corn cob and stover harvest technologies, increases in farm size, and alternative tillage practices on profit maximizing potential of corn cob and stover collection in North Dakota. Using three mathematical programming models, we analyze farmers’ harvest activities under 1) corn grain only harvest option, 2) simultaneous corn grain and cob harvest(one-pass) option 3) separate corn grain and stover harvest (two-pass) option. Under the first corn grain only option, farmers are able to complete harvesting corn grain and achieve maximum net income in a fairly short amount of time with existing combine technology. However, under the simultaneous corn grain and cob one-pass harvest option, our findings indicate that farmers generate lower net income as compared to the net income of corn grain only harvest option. This is due to the slowdown in combine harvest capacity as a consequence of attaching cob harvester to the back of combine. Under the third option of a two-pass harvest system, time allocation is the main challenge and our evidence shows that with limited harvest field time available, farmers find it optimal to allocate most of their time harvesting grain, and then proceed to bale stover if time permits at the end of harvest season. As farm size increases, farmers are especially challenged in finding time to harvest both corn grain and cobs/stover. We show that a small decrease in corn yield due to changes in tillage practice can result in a large decline in the net profit of harvesting corn grain and cobs/stover.

Keywords: Crop Production/Industries; Production Economics (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 43
Date: 2011
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DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.103613

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