"Some of the same pressures are in the market today – fuel prices are at high levels, labor is in short supply and everybody wants a better way to harvest, store and transport hay. But a new factor has also been added and that is the demand for big square balers to harvest biomass for the product of fuel.
In fact, the new owner of the 25,000th large square baler said biofuels are a significant part of his business. He operates two locations in Kansas, two in California and two in Iowa in addition to his home region of Oregon and Washington.
In Kansas, he said, his locations are Hutchinson and Hugoton and much of the work being done in Hugoton is in harvesting and storing the inventory for the new Abengoa Biofuels cellulosic ethanol plant that is slated to go into operation before the end of this year.
As for his loyalty to Agco's Hesston balers: Levy said he hasn't changed his mind since an interview he did with Agco's corporate magazine publication back in 2001.
"I run Hesston because I can't afford downtime," he said.
Biomass is a growing market
Morrell said he is confident that the biomass market will be a dominant growth area in the coming years.
"First of all, there is the market for cellulosic ethanol," he said. "But the research people are already busy looking into other things you can do with biomass. There's a treatment out there now for corn stover that turns it into a cattle feed comparable to silage," he said.
"In Denmark, they burn wheat straw in the power plants. They have it all automated with bale testers and unloaders. They run 30 truckloads a day of big square bales of straw in those plants," he said.
He said the bigger the biomass boom gets, the more big square balers will be in demand. And that has a lot of people in Hesston smiling.