Purdue professor shares secret to more productive forage harvest
Date of publication : 1/7/2008
Source : Purdue University release
With a few calculations and tips from recent research, a systematic approach to the harvesting process could make forage production more efficient.
Purdue University agricultural and biological engineering professor Dennis Buckmaster has advice for selecting forage machinery, calculating machine capacity and determining harvest transport needs.
Matching equipment sizes and needs to the number of acres harvested can have a direct impact on the economics of making hay and silage, Buckmaster said. Harvesting machinery and associated labor costs are often the single largest contributor to the cost of producing and delivering forages. Because of this, selection and sizing of equipment is very important, he said.
"A few simple calculations can help producers more efficiently produce forage, especially during this time of high forage costs," Buckmaster said.
He has compiled capacity information for a wide variety of forage machinery.
"For forage operations, you need to select a set of machinery, not just individual machines," he said. "Every farm is different, but there are somewhat consistent machinery sets for operations within a particular size range. Particularly with silage harvest, it is important to know the harvester's capacity to properly size other machinery."
Buckmaster developed a transport needs model to better estimate the number of trucks an operation needs to keep up with the harvester and also maintain efficiency and power consumption. Some farmers may have too many or not enough trucks for their operation, as they need to take into account many factors, he said.
The transport needs model is based on variables such as speed, capacity, distance, crop and number of trucks. Based on simulations with the major factors considered, this simple equation projects the number and size of transporters required to keep a forage harvester fully utilized.
Buckmaster will speak during the Feb. 15-16 Indiana Cattle and Forage Symposium at the Indianapolis Marriott East hotel and will provide attendees with tools to help them more efficiently utilize machine power and better manage the harvest of both hay and silage.
"I intend to demonstrate the cycle analysis and make it available for a limited time after the conference," said Buckmaster. "Attendance will be required in order to access it." Additional information is provided in a research paper called "A Systems Approach to Forage Harvest Operations" (ASABE, 2006) available online.
The symposium, the first of its kind, will bring producers together to share practices, concerns and common interests, and hear from industry professionals.
Co-sponsored by the Indiana Beef Cattle Association, Indiana Professional Dairy Producers, Milk Promotion Services of Indiana Inc., and the Indiana Forage Council, this event is targeted to dairy and beef producers along with forage producers and providers. Many national and regional speakers, along with Buckmaster, will instruct sessions on topics such as the farm bill, biotechnology, and new agricultural technologies. A trade show also will take place.
Buckmaster's research includes forage harvest, storage and delivery; biomass harvest and storage; and horticultural mechanization.
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