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Feasibility Study of Estimating Nutritional Quality Properties of Alfalfa Crop Using On-the-Go Measurement of Shear Force during Baling Operation

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

Citation:  Paper number  131617562,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: @2013
Authors:   Mohammad Loghavi, Mohammadmehdi Maharlooei
Keywords:   Alfalfa Quality monitoring Baler Shear force

Abstract. Yield monitoring systems for grain and some non-grain crops have been developed and are commercially available. However, no commercial method has been developed for on-the-go measurement of quality indices within the field and scientific studies are still in progress. Most of these efforts are based on NIR and RS techniques. These techniques have some limitations that make them impractical for in-field usage, besides, using these techniques and the required devices are not accessible in most low income and developing countries. Previous research showed good correlation between shear force needed to cut forage crop stems and their nutritional quality indices. In this study, we have tried to use this technique in field conditions to estimate quality indices during baling operation. To achieve this, a rectangular baler (John Deere - 349) was equipped with an appropriate load cell to measure the shear force needed to cut alfalfa stems on its stationary knife blade while each new charge of hay is introduced to the baling chamber. To account for the effect of hay slice thickness and density on shear force, an additional mass flow rate sensor was also installed on this machine. Different levels of crop quality treatments were selected to evaluate the suggested method. Hay samples were also collected from the test fields and their quality indices were measured using standard laboratory test methods. Primary results showed correlation between shear force and quality indices if the effects of mass flow rate and moisture content are canceled. Further investigations are needed to prove the creditability of using this real-time method in field conditions.

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