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Processing alfalfa and soybeans - on the spot.

USDA-ARS agricultural engineer and ASAE member Richard Koegel is experimenting with wet fractionation at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center in Madison, Wis.

In the past, this method was conducted in a central processing facility so herbage, which contains about 80 percent water, had to be transported from the field. Also, waste liquid had to be either dehydrated or transported back to the field as liquid fertilizer.

Last summer, Koegel assembled a group of machines for a field side demonstration of soybean herbage wet fractionation. Commercially available machines were mainly used, but Koegel also modified a hammermill -- originally used for pulverizing grain by forcing it through screens -- to rupture the herbage without reducing fiber size.

Like a combine, the mobile field unit cut the crop and wet-fractionated it while processing juice in the field. Energy for producing 6.4 tons of herbage and 3.5 tons of juice per hour costed about $0.76 per wet ton.

Products from the fiber portion include cattle feed, building materials, chemical feed stocks, mats for filtering pollutants from water, and enzymes derived by growing fungi on the fiber. Products from the juice fraction include food-and feed-grade protein concentrates, carotenoids, antioxidants and industrial enzymes.

This project was conducted under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with industry.
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Publication:Resource: Engineering & Technology for a Sustainable World
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2000
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