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Forage moisture and yield monitoring

Agriculture.com Staff 07/16/2009 @ 12:48pm

With 60% of his corn and 100% of his alfalfa harvested through a self-propelled chopper, Reedsville, Wisconsin, farmer Tom Braun needed a tool to accurately document yield and moisture. That's why he invested in John Deere's HarvestLab in 2007 and uses the system in conjunction with Harvest Monitor to measure yield and moisture on-the-go.

A top-notch product is not only key for his livestock but also beneficial for clients he serves through his custom harvesting business and for the forage he sells.

"Water is not yield. This system lets me know what I'm supplying to customers," Braun says. Deere says the system has a moisture accuracy of ±2% for corn and alfalfa.

"Moisture is important to make sure hay is in the correct range to bale without spoilage (or to suggest that preservative is needed) and for silage to indicate if it's in the proper moisture range for ensiling. It's also important from a hay or especially silage sales standpoint so the buyer is purchasing dry matter, which has the energy and nutrients but not the water," says Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin.

But Braun says HarvestLab does more for him than just monitor moisture.

"Knowing the nutrients that are removed through yield mapping will help me to accurately replace those nutrients by applying manure in the appropriate areas," he says.

In 2008, Claas began testing a new innovation; their Moisture Meter makes its field debut for the 2009 harvest season.

"It's an important tool. Harvesting a crop at the proper moisture is going to make for better feed, better milk production, or better weight gain in animals," says Matt Jaynes of Claas.

The meter, which is priced under $8,000, measures moisture on-the-go and is used with Claas' yield meter. Sensors in the spout measure the humidity of chopped material. Dry matter content is used by the yield meter to help adjust yield measurements and activate moisture measurement.

Claas is claiming the same accuracy levels as Deere's device, but Jaynes notes one key difference: Their tool measures the temperature of the crop, which he says enhances accuracy.

"The biggest advantage is the ability of this meter to find the moisture of the crop quicker. By knowing this, you can move to another field that might be dryer," he says.

With 60% of his corn and 100% of his alfalfa harvested through a self-propelled chopper, Reedsville, Wisconsin, farmer Tom Braun needed a tool to accurately document yield and moisture. That's why he invested in John Deere's HarvestLab in 2007 and uses the system in conjunction with Harvest Monitor to measure yield and moisture on-the-go.

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