Feedstock Logistics

The Feedstock Logistics team works on developing systems and strategies to enable sustainable and economic harvest, transportation, and storage of feedstocks. The team focuses on the development and evaluation of harvest and logistics systems that are easily adaptable, produce consistent and quality feedstock for conversion, and are economically, energetically, and environmentally efficient and sustainable. 

The team is also investigating novel harvest and transport systems, demonstrating these systems at field-scale, and evaluating harvest and supply chain costs. The team also evaluates technologies for more efficient feedstock de-construction and drying.

Our Feedstock Logistics team members have produced an extensive resource library with material for everyone involved in the harvest, storage and transportation of perennial grasses.

Project Directors

  • Stuart Birrell, Iowa State University
  • Kevin Shinners, University of Wisconsin, Madison


  • Doug Karlen, USDA, Agricultural Research Service

2017 Overview 

With project partner eXtension we have created an overview of our work in feedstock logistics: CenUSA Feedstock Logistics: Innovative Systems for Harvest, Transportation, and Storage of Perennial Grass Biomass. (Jan. 2017).

Fact Sheets

Successfully Harvest Switchgrass Grown for Biofuel (Jan. 2017)

  • Kevin Shinners (Agricultural Engineering, University of Wisconsin) explains the rationale behind best practices & equipment for harvesting perennial grass biomass.

Storing Perennial Grasses Grown for Biofuel (July 2015)

  • Kevin Shinners explains that no matter how you store harvested perennial grasses grown for biofuel feedstock, be sure to minimize dry matter losses and maintain uniform physical and chemical properties.  

Logistical Challenges to Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) as a Bioenergy Crop (May 2013)

  • Stuart Birrell (Ag & Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University) and Amy Kohmetscher (Distance Education Specialist, Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln) show there’s more to producing a crop like switchgrass for bioenergy than just growing it. 

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles and Technical Papers

  • De Souza, A., Birrell, S.J., Steward, B.L & S. Ksketri. 2015. High frequency dielectric sensing system development for corn and switchgrass features measurement. ASABE Paper No. 2160026, Am. Soc. of Agric. Engineers, St. Joseph, MI.
  • Karlen, D.L., J.L. Kovar, S.J. Birrell. 2015. Corn Stover Nutrient Removal Estimates for Central Iowa, U.S.A. Sustainability 2015 7(7): 8621-8634. https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/7/7/8621. (Open Access).
  • Khanchi, A. & S.J. Birrell, 2017. Drying models to estimate moisture change in switchgrass and corn stover based on weather conditions and swath density. Agricultural & Forest Meteorology 237-238:1-8.
  • Khanchi, A. & S.J. Birrell, 2017. Effect of rainfall and swath density on dry matter and composition change during drying of switchgrass and corn stover. Biosystems Engineering 153:42-51.
  • Khanchi, A. & S.J. Birrell. 2015. Influence of weather and swath density on drying characteristics of corn stover. ASABE Paper No. 2190753. 2015 ASABE Annual International Meeting Am. Soc. of Agric. Engineers, St. Joseph, MI. doi: 10.13031/aim.20152190753). St. Joseph, Mich.: ASABE. http://elibrary.asabe.org/azdez.asp?search=1&JID=5&AID=46290&CID=norl2015&v=&i=&T=1&urlRedirect=.
  • Lacy, N.C. & K.J. Shinners. 2016. Reshaping and recompressing round biomass bales. Trans ASABE. 59(4):795-802. Abstract: doi:10.13031/trans.59.11778.
  • Sharma, B., S. Birrell & F.E. Miguez. 2017. Spatial modeling framework for bioethanol plant siting and biofuel production potential in the U.S. Applied Energy 191(2017):75–86.
  • Sharma, B., E. Brandes, A. Khanchi, S. Birrell, E. Heaton & F. E. Miguez. 2015. Evaluation of Microalgae Biofuel Production Potential and Cultivation Sites Using Geographic Information Systems: A Review. BioEnergy Res. 8(4):1714–1734. doi: 10.1007/s12155-015-9623-0.
  • Shinners, K.J. & Friede, J.C. (2013). Energy requirements for at-harvest or on-farm size-reduction of biomass. ASABE Technical Paper No. 1591983.
  • Shinners, K.J. & Friede, J.C. (2013). Improving the drying rate of switchgrass. ASABE Technical Paper No. 1591968.
  • Shinners, K.J. & Friede, J.C., & Kraus, J. & Anstey, D. (2013). Improving bale handling logistics by strategic bale placement. ASABE Technical Paper No. 1591987.
  • Williams, S.D. & K.J. Shinners. 2014. Farm-scale anaerobic storage and aerobic stability of high dry matter perennial grasses as biomass feedstock. Biomass & Bioenergy. 64:91-98.

Instructional Videos and Webinars

Harvesting Native Grass for Biofuel Production

  • Rob Mitchell (USDA-ARS) discusses the potential of switchgrass in biofuel production while demonstrating harvesting equipment usage. [2:57]

Optimizing Harvest of Perennial Grasses for Biofuel

  • Kevin Shinners (Biological Systems Engineering, Univ. of Wisconsin discusses new systems to harvest, handle, store and transport perennial grasses that will be used as biomass feedstocks.[4:50]

Switchgrass and Bioenergy Crop Logistics

  • CenUSA Bioenergy CoProject Director Stuart Birrell discusses switchgrass and bioenergy rop logistics. (36.44)

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)