Farm Ireland

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Leap forward for HarvestLab system

Bruce Lett

For several years now, John Deere silage harvesters have had the firm's HarvestLab moisture meter attached to the chute, thereby measuring the moisture of the crop as it exits the harvester.

The company has developed this concept even further with the introduction of the latest HarvestLab sensor, which it claims can analyse a range of crop constituents including sugars, starch, protein and crude fibre content. This latest version, like the original, is based on near infrared (NIR) sensor technology to determine the different values of the crop.

The HarvestLab unit is designed and manufactured by German firm Zeiss Jena. The firm has a plant in Wexford and was in the news recently when it announced the possible loss of 82 jobs.

Fitted to the harvester chute, the HarvestLab sensor takes crop readings 17 times a second, and, according to Deere, has been independently verified by DLG to consistently deliver plus or minus 2pc accuracy.

Deere says it has the ability to measure sugar levels and possibly use this information to manage the silage additive process more efficiently when tied in with a variable rate additive applicator. HarvestLab also records all the necessary crop and harvest data for the contractor's invoicing process.

Using the dry matter data from the HarvestLab monitor, John Deere integrates this information into its harvester's various control systems to vary the chop length. On board, the AutoLOC system automatically adjusts the chop length in 1mm increments, based on pre-set values set by the operator. Deere points out that this technology can also be applied to the harvesting of biomass material for bioenergy plants.

The HarvestLab system is included in the specification of the i-Series foragers, with the price of a retrofit system for an existing 7000 or 7050 Series SPFH €23,860 plus VAT. This includes a StarFire 3000 satellite receiver with SF2 signal and an in-cab 2630 GreenStar Display. This price would be over €3,000, plus VAT, less if you went for the older GreenStar 1800 or original GreenStar displays. There are a host of other related options as well.

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