Best storage methods for miscanthus in Iowa

June 14, 2019 9:28 AM
Blog Post

Miscanthus has to be harvested all at once and must be stored for later use every season.  Standing miscanthus fields are harvested with a forage chopper or self-propelled mower conditioner (as previously discussed in our Miscanthus harvest concludes! blog) and therefore handled and stored in two different ways, i.e. Ag-Bag or bales. Storing miscanthus in Iowa is easily accomplished using proven methods readily available to any size producer.         

Figure 1
Figure 1. Versa bagger with Miscanthus x giganteus. 

Photo credit: Heaton Lab


Chopping vs. Baling

Most Iowa farmers prefer to chop miscanthus into 1 ½” lengths with a high capacity, heavy duty forage chopper. This low-density crop is blown into a dump cart where it might be transported off site. At the storage facility, the low-density material is stuffed into an Ag-Bag, (Figure 1). Similar to a corn silage bag, the bag preserves chopped miscanthus harvested at or below 15% moisture until it is ready for further processing. The chopped miscanthus can be stored uncovered, but significant losses should be considered. 

Figure 2
Figure 2. Covered bales of Miscanthus giganteus.

Photo credit: https://www.agriland.ie/farming-news/forage-focus-have-you-considered-miscanthus-as-a-bedding-option/


 

In Iowa, some farmers may choose to use a mower conditioner and form into large round or square bales. Bales can be stored outside and stacked tightly. However, they will retain the consistent and proper moisture level and resist damage and degradation better if they are covered with tarpaulin or stored under a roof (Figure 2). 

It is up to the farmer!

Miscanthus is a sturdy plant and whether baling or chopping, high capacity, powerful equipment works best. Miscanthus storage depends on the individual farmer’s harvest equipment and their ability to transfer directly to the end point. However, chopped material should be bagged and bales should be covered for storage in order to secure the quality of the material.

Category: 
Authors: 

Danielle Clark (Wilson) Assistant Scientist I

My role: Coordinate the research activities of the Crop Production & Physiology lab group. Provide research support and training to faculty, staff, and graduate students who require the use of the shared equipment and facili...

Emily Heaton Associate Professor of Agronomy

Agricultural landscapes face increasing pressure to provide the four F's: food, feed, fiber and fuel, while simultaneously maintaining the ecosystem functions that support life as we know it. Done prudently, dedicated biomass crops can provide feedstock for bioenergy and bioproducts while also en...