Introducing: The CORNROWER
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Jim Straeter, owner and manager of Rochester New Holland in Rochester, Indiana had invited numerous members of the agricultural media as well as representatives from Monsanto, ADM, and Purdue University. We gathered around a 12 row unit inside his dealership. Then we traveled to the Ault Family farm just south of Rochester where the Cornrower has been used and put to the test.
Dr. Edgerton of Monsanto explained that his company sells seed and has an interest in helping farmers to use more of the corn plant. This new product is designed to collect trash in a row so that it can be baled or picked up with a forage harvester and used for silage. The research has already demonstrated that something like this would work, this product is proof that it does work in the real world on the farm.
Steve Peterson, another representative from Monsanto went on to explain that by applying calcium hydroxide onto the corn stover, the pH stays high, lignin is broken down, and the feed value for beef cattle is increased by 30-50%.
We visited the Ault family farm where the family can feed about 1500 head of cattle at a time and markets about 4000 head of cattle per year. Aaron and his father manage the farm along with about 7 employees. They explain that instead of returning the corn fodder directly to the field, they feed and bed cattle with it. The manure is then spread over about 1,500 acres and even with that, they still require some fertilizer. Mr. Ault explained that he plants ryegrass from a plane in August, which has deep roots, and they believe is helping them to prevent compaction as they drag much heavy equipment over the fields each year.
The corn is harvested and sold, and the stover, which has an estimated value of $30.00 per bale, can be fed to the cattle. The clear advantage of Jim’s invention is that bales or silage is picked up without dirt and rocks. Dirt is not good for ethanol or feeding cattle and that makes this head particularly valuable.
Jim is currently negotiating with CNH to market the head. He explains, “I was just trying to make a product that would help my customers.” This machine has been several years in the making, and this year he sent heads to Illinois and Iowa to be tested on farms under different conditions. Many farmers, agricultural companies and Purdue University have all contributed to this effort. Jim says with a huge smile, “Many people came together with assistance and one thing that everyone had in common was the notion that we are all working toward a goal of sustainability in agriculture.”
Check out Rochester New Holland’s website for more information and more demos.
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