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The Critical Need For Harvesting Research

Recognizing that harvesting costs using traditional methods (even with improved efficiency) may represent two-thirds or more of total energy crop production costs, we believe that research into this area may provide the most important sigle aspect of achieving economic objectives (e.g., lowering the per unit cost per MMBTU of energy crop fuel).

Energy Crop Cost Components

We are directing and structuring research into the use of high efficiency energy-crop harvesting systems currently used in Europe, such as the Claas Jaguar forage harvester equipped with a willow head. Through literature reviews, discussions with Claas, the Antares Group (the lead consultant for the New York Willow Project), and others, the estimated cost of using a high capacity forage harvester is $.50 to $.65 per MMBTU -- approximately one-third of current harvesting costs using traditional methods.

Cost Estimates: The below table reflects three scenarios of current cost estimates for harvesting energy crop fuel. Both traditional scenarios reflect harvesting practices using using feller-bunchers and skidders -- with the improved traditional case based on efficiency improvements demonstrated by Scott Paper Company in Southern Alabama (e.g., cull tree harvesting for energy wood fuel).

Estimated Cost For Harvesting Energy Crop Trees

Cost Scenario:
$/Green Ton
Traditional Base Case
Traditional Improved Case
Claas Harvester Case

Brief Background on Harvesting: In the U.S., traditional forestry harvesting/logging/chipping practices are comprised of using seperate equipment fellerbunchers, skidders, and on- site chippers. The Claas Jaguar Forage Harvester combines the functions of this traditional foresty equipment into one operation:

Harvesting Research: In order to position our research efforts to perform "field harvesting tests" using more efficient harvesting equipment, we have configured much of our energy crop plantation in Lakeland to be adapable to the Claas equipment. This involves planting twin rows of trees, to be harvested in one to two years from planting, as illustrated below:

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