One of the most challenging aspects of baling hay is determining its quality and relative feed value (RFV). It is very difficult to determine the amount of hay needed in a balanced ration due to feed value of hay crops vary widely. The standard practice is to conduct tests on random hay samples in order to determine its quality. However, there are many problems such as accuracy, difficulty of tracking the hay through the feeding process and the ability to effectively adjust rations.
Baler technologies to help identify RFV
Many farmers are now looking into new baler technologies in order to help them identify RFV quickly and accurately to help increase profit.
The key to accurately measure RFV is to determine the bale weight.
With new baler technologies, there are a few different sensors to measure the alfalfa leaf-to-stem ratio. As the leaf content increases, so does the weight.
After taking a sample, the new baler technology system would be able to correlate the weight of the acid detergent fiber and neutral detergent fiber to predict the RFV.
The lower the acid detergent fiber and neutral detergent fiber, the higher the RFV.
This new system is about to garner more consistent nutrition and performance of the animal at a much lower cost.
Dry matter technology
Current farmers are not able to measure the before and after dry matter losses.
Because of this, it is difficult to manage as there is so much variability.
In the future, as technology improves, it would be great to be able to measure dry matter as the crop is cut, re-measure it again as it is baled and compared the two readings to get a better idea how much dry matter is being lost.
Baler automation is now at its infancy but is expected to pick up in the near future.
Today, some tractors and round balers communicate together which allow the operators to automate the baling process.
The entire process can cut down on operator involvement by two thirds, ensuring comfort and longevity in the fields.
On some large square balers, operators are able to create uniform bale lengths by setting the machine to slice control.
This would enable the baler to communicate to the tractor to vary the ground speed based on the volume of crop coming into its pre-change chamber, keeping a consistent flake thickness for consistent bale weights, which will ultimately increase the operation efficiency.