AGRICULTURAL MACHINERY ENGINEERING RESEARCH LABORATORY
Welcome to the Machinery Systems Engineering Research Group at the University of Wisconsin.
We conduct research on how to most efficiently harvest biomass crops like corn stover, wheat straw, switchgrass, reed canrygrass, sorghum, and energy cane. Harvesting is the first link in the biomass logistics chain and an economical feedstock can only be achieved when this first step is done efficiently. Toward this goal, our group modifies existing equipment, invents new machines, and field evaluates biomass harvesting systems. It is our goal to provide the least cost feedstock by rapidly harvesting biomass crops that have the desired physical properties while consuming the least energy.
An important aspect of biomass logistics is how to conserve the value of the harvested feedstock during the storage period. Biomass demand is year round but it is harvested in a short period, so the ability to store and conserve its energy value for later use is critical. The goal of our storage research is to minimize negative compositional changes during storage while incurring the least costs. Our research has focused on aerobic storage of dry feedstocks and anaerobic storage of moist feedstocks. We have been pioneers in the area of preservation of moist feedstocks through anaerobic fermentation and in adding value to feedstocks by long duration, ambient condition pretreatment during storage.
HAY AND FORAGE HARVEST AND STORAGE
Wisconsin is America's Dairyland and in support of this vital industry, we conduct research on ways to produce and storage high-quality forage for Wisconsin's dairy cattle. When kernel processors were first introduced, we investigated the chop length and processor settings to maintain harvester capacity while delivering the required feed qualities. We have investigated schemes to maintain round bale quality when bales are stored outdoors and our work has provided recommendations for conserving bales by ensiling in film wrap. Other work has focused on wide-swath drying, large-sqaure-bale conservation through use of preservatives, and new conditioning systems. Our work does not stop at the borders of Wisconsin. We have even investigated hay re-hydration systems in the arid western US. We have developed a variety of specialized tools to support research in this area. Future work will focus on investigating new kernel processing mechanisms, new hay preservatives and preserving dry hay in wrapped film.