CNH Industrial makes world-class equipment and technology for agriculture and construction. The company provides the strategic direction, R&D capabilities, and investments that enable the success of its core brands, agricultural machinery manufacturers Case IH and New Holland.
Crop residues are what is left on the land after the crop is harvested. Particularly in India, these residues are typically burned in the field. One key reason is the high amount of straw that is generated (7 to 15 tonnes of paddy straw per ha) and the short amount of time between harvest and the next seeding period. The harvest season typically lasts 20 to 30 days.
The straw can be compacted into bales. However, during the harvest season, most baling operators are busy and do not pay much attention to straw quality, resulting in inconsistent quality in the bales.
Less than 10% of paddy straw is baled and used in biomass plants in north India. The Indian government is taking several measures to minimise the burning of crop residue and reduce air pollution, including setting up biomass-based energy generation plants to use the crop residue.
How might we record a set of parameters of individual paddy straw bales (crop residues) that indicate the quality of each bale and thus its suitability for different uses?
CNH Industrial is looking for solution providers to improve the supply chain for farmers who deliver crop residues to offtakers, such as biomass energy plants, livestock feed producers, livestock feed producers, mushroom cultivators, etc. The goal is to reduce the amount of residues burned in the field, because the farmers can more easily sell them.
Recording and making available a set of parameters, such as bale weight, moisture content, geolocation, and quantity, helps to determine which bales are delivered to their respective offtakers. Currently, certain parameters like weight and moisture index from baling operators are available at the time of baling. Unfortunately, because a bale undergoes a number of logistical stages, it is not possible to keep track of all these parameters at the bale level.
CNH Industrial believes that the offtaker will greatly benefit from a “bale passport” for each bale. This “passport” or label (for example, QR code or barcode) can be attached to each bale, considering the different bale shapes (square, round and large – more on this later) and types of wrapping (net, twine, and plastic film). The information associated with the label should be stored in an online database and can be assessed by a user using a device like a smartphone or laptop.
Initially, CNH Industrial would try to set up baling machines with appropriate sensors that provide parameters such as bale weight, moisture index, product type, and nutrient parameters. Then, the parameters would be sent to the cloud and made available to the potential offtakers, who would be able to ascertain the quality of the product and choose which to select and when, based on the characteristics of the product, while also taking into consideration the distance from the field to their location.
So, the exchange of information between the farmer and the offtaker will improve operational efficiency and increase profitability for those who can monitor the quality.
CNH Industrial will consider the overall capital expenditure to implement the solution, the operational expenditure to operate the solution, and a measurable Return on Investment (ROI). While specifics will depend on the solution provider, the following criteria are essential:
- The bale tag applicator to be installed on a baler should cost no more than US$1,000 for a small square baler, US$2,000 for a round baler, or US$4,000 for a large square baler.
- The bale tag itself should cost no more than US$0.10.
The proof-of-concept should be conducted within six months. The selected solution provider will get project management and engineering support through CNH Industrial’s India Technology Centre in New Delhi.
Resources and incentives
CNH Industrial is providing funding of up to SGD30,000 for a trial.
Enterprise Singapore is augmenting this support with a SGD20,000 POC development grant. This POC development grant will be made available to solution providers, both local and foreign, provided that they engage in innovation development activities in Singapore.
Check out the recording from our Info Session, where CNH Industrial shared more about their challenge statement.
Market Potential / Business Opportunity
CNH Industrial believes that this market is substantial, even just focusing on two regions in India, where only 10% of paddy straw is being repurposed. For example, each biomass plant needs about 150,000 tonnes per year, which adds up to about 15 million bales. This means 15 million pieces of information in the “passport” can help improve the quality of supplies and the resulting product, as well as the optimisation of manufacturing costs. More than 20,000 farmers will benefit in these two regions.
Following a successful pilot, CNH Industrial is interested to explore the following potential collaboration opportunities:
- Becoming a launch customer of the startup;
- Joint development and potential joint IP ownership;
- Equity investment in the selected startup, if there is synergy; and/or
- Joint go-to-market to partners and customers.
Beyond tagging and tracking, offtakers who can undertake the entire bale management process, including quality control and necessary bioconversion processes, are welcome to make a submission.
Small square balers:
Off-field Rice Straw Managementhttp://www.knowledgebank.irri.org/step-by-step-production/postharvest/rice-by-products/rice-straw/off-field-rice-straw-management