What is an agricultural biomass supply chain expert? Simply put, it is a person that understands the dozens of issues that will affect the production of the tens of thousands of tons of feedstock that a project needs to be profitable as it produces a fuel or chemical. The expert should know how to get a high quality raw material at an advantageous cost, whether the best agricultural waste for the project would be corn stover, wheat straw or some purpose grown crop like miscanthus. The expert will need to know things like how the harvest method of corn affects the corn stover take rates, how the take rate affects cost, and how irrigation methodology influences both take rate and quality.
The expert will also want to be able to ascertain the preferred method of harvesting miscanthus, knowing how infield variability will affect profitability. He or she will also want to understand problems surrounding the number one farmer complaint of harvest and baling operations. He or she will want to know how much and what equipment will be needed for the operation, and how things like corn stover removal affect soil quality. These are just the beginning of the questions the biomass supply chain expert in agriculture must be prepared to answer in order to secure an economical high quality feedstock.
Corn grain ethanol has grown from just over a billion gallons per year in 2001 to over ten billion gallons in 2010. It has had the benefit of a decades-old infrastructure, including things like the grain elevators and the commodities market. For materials like corn stover, these advantages may no longer exist. Therein lies the ultimate value that a biomass supply chain expert brings to a project or existing operation.
At Lee Enterprises Consulting, we have highly qualified agricultural biomass supply chain experts available to assist you with any related matters. Feel free to call or email us for more information.