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Industrial harvesting of olive tree pruning residue for energy biomass
In Mediterranean countries, olive tree pruning residue represents an abundant source of energy biomass, still largely unexploited for lack of cost-effective harvesting technology. The authors tested two industrial pruning harvesters, capable of overcoming the limits of lighter units appeared in the past years. One of the machines was designed for application to a powerful farm tractor, whereas the other was a self-propelled dedicated harvester. Data were collected from 10 operations, covering a total of 69 hectares and producing over 190 tonnes of wood fuel. Recorded productivity varied between 3 and 9 tonnes per scheduled machine hour (SMH), or 2-7 oven dry tonnes (odt) SMH-1. Harvesting cost varied from 17 to 52 € t-1, with an average value of 28 € t-1: these values correspond, respectively to 22, 70 and 40 € odt-1. This compares very favourably with the average 1-1.5 ton SMH-1 offered by lighter commercial units. Productivity was related to residue density, row length and forwarding distance. Mechanical availability was high and over 90%, for both machines. The authors also developed a simple deterministic model capable of predicting harvesting productivity and cost, as a function of significant site and economic conditions. The model can also be used to determine the break-even utilization level, below which the operational flexibility of a tractor-mounted operation becomes preferable to the higher productivity of a specialised unit. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Bioresource Technology / Vol. 101, No. 2, pp.730-735
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