From Harvest to Harvest: MHG’s Canola and the Circle of Life
MHG’s 2015 Canola Crop has Arrived!
Between March and May 2015, the golden flowers of South Georgia’s winter-cropped Canola fields transformed into spiky, dry stalks covered with millions of seed pods.
When the seed was just ripe, the farmers of Decatur County brought out the combines and commenced to harvest the seeds on behalf of biopolymer company MHG.
The harvest alone is an impressive and highly organized undertaking. After the combine drivers mow and thrash the plants, sieves are used to separate the Canola seed from the pods and stalks. The filtered seed is fed into a grain cart.
The detritus is cast back onto the field, where it will serve as fertilizer for the summer crop.
When the grain cart fills up, a tractor driver comes along to replace it with an empty vessel. The full cart is then hauled to a semi tractor-trailer. The rich, brown Canola seed is fed into a hopper, then trucked to MHG’s agrofacturingTM site.
During a single run, each combine team collects about 300 bushels. Approximately 50 pounds of seed per bushel translates to about 15 tons per combine run. When the harvest is complete, millions of pounds of Canola seed will have been collected.
Upon arrival at MHG’s facility, every load of seed is immediately sampled with a specially designed probe to ensure quality control. The sample is delivered by vacuum to a technician in an onsite lab, who tests its moisture content, temperature and weight, making sure the seed is not too wet or hot. Once the seed passes inspection, the hopper is transported to the grain storage facility.
The bottom of the hopper opens, the seed is dumped into a pit through a grate, then filtered and vacuumed into a silo. The silo is kept aerated with circulating air at all times, to protect the seed and keep it dry.
Eventually, the seeds will be cold pressed to extract Canola oil. Cold-pressing, which does not require solvents, involves grinding the seed using good old fashioned millstone technology while keeping the temperature below 120°F (49°C).
By using the cold press method to collect the oil, MHG preserves the purity of its renewable and sustainable production line and creates a toxin-free food for the microorganisms that generate its trademark PHA (Polyhydroxyalkanoate).
The PHA, which is an ester or fat-like substance the organisms use to store energy, will in turn be harvested by MHG to produce bioplastic resins.
PHA biopolymers can be used as replacement plastics for petrochemicals to make a wide range of both durable and disposable goods that organically decompose, cleanly and quickly, into the biosphere after disposal.
In addition to single-use plastic bags, straws and cup lids, PHA can be used in the production of injection molded products, such as toys and eating utensils, aqueous coatings on paper products, such as cereal boxes and candy wrappers, fibers in products that absorb water, such as disposable diapers, and films for food storage, to prevent drying and protect food from contamination.
MHG PHA is certified biodegradable in six different mediums, including aerobically in soil and water, and anaerobically in fresh water, salt water, soil, and compost.
The reason PHA degrades so well is that the polymer is manufactured within a living microbial organism. After disposal, other microbes harvest the PHA for food, reducing it to the simplest elements of life: carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.