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Initial Results Utilizing a Commercially Available Ultrasonic Sensor for Forage Yield Measurement

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  131598681,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: @2013
Authors:   D. Kent Shannon, John Lory, Robert Kallenbach, Todd Lorenz, Joni Harper, Gene Schmitz, Wendy Rapp, Brent Carpenter, Danny England
Keywords:   ultrasonics yield map forage precision agriculture sensors

Abstract. Efficient use of forage in grazing systems benefits from regularly quantifying forage. A rising plate meter has been the most accepted technology for non-destructively estimating forage yield but this approach is hard to integrate into an on-the-go measuring system and with GPS technology. Ultrasonic sensors emit a pulsed ultrasonic wave and determine the distance to an object based on the time it takes for the sound echo to return to the sensor. Initial work in Australia, Germany and Sweden has demonstrated potential for this approach for measuring forage yield. The ultrasonic sensor has the added benefit that it is compatible with GPS technology which will facilitate creation of on-the-go forage yield maps. In this preliminary study, a Senix TSPC-30S1 sensor emitting a pulse at 20 Hz was mounted on an all-terrain vehicle to measure forage height along with GPS position information. Results were compared with actual harvested dry weights. The technology was tested under a range of conditions in predominantly tall fescue hay at three harvest dates from May 2012 to November 2012. Initial results showed ultrasonic sensor readings were correlated with dry matter yield (r2=0.71). Ultrasonic sensor technology has potential to be an effective tool to non-destructively estimate on-the-go forage dry matter yield.

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