Single-Pass Harvester for Whole-Plant Crops

The Need:

As the United States strives to transition its energy reliance from traditional fossil fuels to renewable sources, the need for efficient and sustainable feedstock procural for cellulosic and lignocellulosic ethanol production becomes paramount. To achieve this goal, a technology that can simplify and optimize the process of whole-plant maize harvest is essential. Traditional methods involving multiple passes or simultaneous use of various agricultural equipment are not only cumbersome but also less environmentally friendly. There is a pressing demand for a single-pass whole-plant maize harvester that can efficiently cut, bale, and transport the crop while minimizing energy consumption and maximizing feedstock yield.

The Technology:

The single-pass whole-plant maize harvester is a groundbreaking technology designed to streamline the harvest process and support the shift towards renewable energy sources. It consists of a NH 450SFI omni-directional forage header combined with a NH 340S+ baler, both mounted on an undercarriage that underwent a redesign for optimal performance. The harvester is pulled by a large frame tractor (>300 hp) and incorporates a swing-style hitch and PTO driveline for smooth operation. The innovative offset configuration of the harvester from the baler ensures that the maize crop is harvested without being run over by the tractor, thus preserving yield and quality. The harvester's power requirements, averaging around 130 hp, make it energy-efficient and feasible for widespread adoption.

Commercial Applications:

  • Renewable Energy Feedstock: The technology's primary application lies in providing a reliable and efficient source of feedstock for cellulosic and lignocellulosic ethanol production, bolstering the renewable energy sector.
  • Agricultural Industry: Farmers and growers can benefit significantly from the technology, as it simplifies the logistics of in-field whole-plant maize harvest, reducing labor and operational costs.
  • Ethanol Manufacturers: Ethanol production companies can enhance their sustainability initiatives by sourcing feedstock from the whole-plant maize harvested using this innovative technology.


  • Increased Efficiency: The single-pass harvester eliminates the need for multiple operations and machinery, streamlining the harvest process and reducing time and labor.
  • Energy Conservation: With average power requirements of 130 hp, the technology represents an energy-efficient solution for maize harvest, contributing to overall sustainability goals.
  • High Feedstock Density: The produced bales with an average density of 21.5 lbs/ft3 surpass the required density for semi-trailer transportation (13.5 lbs/ft3), optimizing transportation efficiency.
  • Improved Yield and Quality: The offset configuration prevents crop damage during harvest, ensuring a higher yield and better-quality feedstock.
  • Environmental Benefits: By facilitating the transition to renewable energy sources, the technology plays a crucial role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change.

Embracing this advanced whole-plant maize harvest technology will not only accelerate the shift to renewable energy sources but also revolutionize agricultural practices, benefitting the environment, growers, and the renewable energy industry alike.


Patent # Title Country
63/419,542 Single-Pass Harvester for Whole-Plant Crops United States of America

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