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The rising use of sensors in agriculture is bringing new opportunities for farmers. John Deere has been upping its game in the sensor business, including its recent purchase of Blue River Technology. And now it’s offering an upgrade to an innovative sensor on its self-propelled forage harvesters.

The company is rolling out HarvestLab 3000 to build on its on-the-go- sensor tech for use in forage harvest. The system allows producers to measure certain nutrient values for forages harvested for feeding livestock.

This is a Near-Infrared Spectroscopy sensor that can measure moisture, dry matter, protein, starch, neutral detergent fiber or acid detergent fiber. The system provides results immediately to allow users to get more frequent and representative samples, rather thanusing periodic, nonrepresentative samples measured using wet chemistry analysis.

The HarvestLab 3000 can measure up to 10 nutrient values of feed going through the chute 4,000 times per second, and it provides real-time data-gathering. There’s also the ability to map that information (when connected to GPS) for a better understanding of the field performance of forages.

In announcing the new system, John Mishler, precision ag technology tactical marketing manager, notes that mapping has a lot of value for beef and dairy producers to optimize nutritional value of feed. “These nutrient values can be wirelessly transmitted to the John Deere Operations Center for analysis, future crop and nutrient application planning and for archiving field and crop history,” he says.

 This quick analysis also allows a producer to make on-the-go adjustments to maximize feed quality.

Dual mode
The two-mode design of the new HarvestLab 3000 provides added versatility.

When mounted to forage harvesters, HarvestLab 3000 provides integrated, automatic length of cut adjustments based on moisture ranges preset by the operator. That allows a user to get optimum bunker density and high-quality silage. Also, inoculant applications can be more precise, matching information based on sugar and dry-matter readings.

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