Following its public preview at last year’s Agritechnica machinery show, Krone recently demonstrated its highly anticipated Premos pelleting machine. Abby Kellett reports.
Recognising a need to improve the efficiency of straw transport, and given the rising demand of renewable energy, Krone claims to have developed the first mobile straw pelleting machine, the Premos 5000.
While there are currently static and semi-mobile pelleting systems available, the trailed machine is the first of its kind to produce pellets ‘on the go’, converting straw into pellets directly from the swath.
The need for excessive bale handling is therefore eliminated. Moreover, it uses only half the energy normally used for pellet production of stationary plants, says the manufacturer.
According to Krone, the machine will improve the efficiency of straw transport since the straw is densely packed into 16mm pellets, making haulage over large distances much more cost effective.
In comparison, regular large square bales have a bulk density of about 140-170kg/cu.m, whereas pellets can cram in about 600-700kg/cu.m.
The size of the pellets mean there is no need to pre-chop the straw and so the energy requirement is vastly reduced compared to alternative static machines currently available.
Able to produce about five tonnes of pellets per hour, the Premos is significantly more productive than current static systems which typically produce one tonne per hour, says the manufacturer.
Fuel, bedding and feed were among end-uses discussed by Krone at the event.
Product specialist, Kai Luepping says: “Pellets act as a good form of bedding since they have a very high water absorption capacity and they do not produce as much dust as loose straw.
“250g of pellets can absorb about 1l of water. Using pellets for bedding would also mean reducing muck volume by about 60 per cent.”
Mr Luepping adds: “Straw pellets also offer a heating energy solution that compares with that of wood pellets, and there is currently a greater abundance of straw than of wood. In terms of energy, approximately 2.5kg of straw pellets is equivalent to 1l of fuel oil.”
Able to be stored in hoppers, transferred by augers and metered out more accurately, the firm says pellets are easier to handle and lend themselves better to automated systems.
Pellets are formed under high pressure, with material forced through die holes at 2,000bar. Temperature build-up during the process can reach up to 100 degrees celcius. As a consequence, the firm says the pellets are practically germ free, due to the heat build up.
For those looking to clear straw from fields quickly, there is an option to extend the Premos’ use by attaching a bale splitter which uses beaters to break open the bale, converting it to a static machine whereby bales can be fed into it.
While the machine is not currently commercially available, Krone predicts it will hit the UK market within two years at a cost of about £210,000 excluding the bale splitter attachment.