High corn and soybean prices have inadvertently created a hay shortage as growers have switched hay ground into row crops. As a result of this shortage, hay prices are now at record highs, ranging from $200 to $300/ton. To take advantage of these high prices, you might want to upgrade your haying equipment to help harvest this valuable crop.
Hay producers have a wealth of new technology available. To learn about this technology, we went to the editors of our sister publication Hay & Forage Grower, the only national publication devoted exclusively to alfalfa and other forage crops. Editors Fae Holin and Neil Tietz gave us a look at the top 10 technologies now available in hay equipment. -Jodie Wehrspann
This is part two in a two-part photo gallery featuring the top 10 haying technologies. View part one here .
1. Self-propelled merger
Until now, hay mergers have been pulled behind a tractor. But last fall, Oxbo International unveiled the world’s first self-propelled hay merger called the Oxbo 4334. Holin says a benefit of this new configuration is that the hay during merging is not damaged by wheel tracks from the tractor because the pick-up heads run up front. “It’s also a lot easier to maneuver than a pull-behind unit,” she says.
Operators have the ability to raise, lower, fold and unfold pickup heads with a joystick and fingertip controls. The merger allows for a top road speed of 30 mph to lessen the time it takes to move between locations. Pickup heads fold to a 10-ft. transport width in less than 20 seconds, the company claims.
The Oxbo 4334 is sold through Oxbo’s dealer network. Pricing has not been released. To find the dealer nearest you, contact Doug Ahrens, Oxbo forage market manager, Dept. FIN, 100 Bean St., Clear Lake, WI 54005, 715/263-2112, [email protected] , <a href="http://www.oxbocorp.com">www.oxbocorp.com.</a></p>
2. One-pass equipment
Haying equipment traditionally has been designed to perform one task, whether it be mowing, merging, tedding or baling. But several new products can do multiple tasks at once to save farmers a trip across the field. These include the Flex Rake and the Cornrower.
“The Flex Rake is a wheel rake designed to work in conjunction with a baler, in this case a Vermeer round baler, so that hay can be raked and baled at the same time,” Tietz says. “The most unique thing about the wheel rake is that the PTO shaft that runs the baler is inside the rake’s frame.” Suggested list prices for the 10-wheel models: $15,000 for ridged tongue and $19,500 for foldup tongue. Contact Flex Rake, Dept. FIN, 5006 Country Rd. 2290, Goshen, AL 36035, 334/937-0024 or 334/465-0821, <a href="http://www.flexrake.net">www.flexrake.net.</a></p>
The Cornrower is a combine head attachment that windrows corn stover at the same time the combine harvests corn. It mounts on an eight-row New Holland 99C chopping corn head and is compatible with New Holland CR combines with high-speed header drives. Kits for other combines may follow. List price: $18,000. Contact New Holland Rochester Inc., Dept. FIN, 1260 E 100 S, Rochester, IN 46975, 800/327-5936, <a href="http://newhollandrochester.com">newhollandrochester.com.</a></p>
3. High-density balers
In 2008, German haying company Krone came out with a high-density large square baler, the Krone BigPack 1290 HDP. Designed with a higher load setting than that of a standard baler, the 1290 HDP increases bale density by up to 25%, putting the weight of a 4- x 4-ft. bale into a 3- x 4-ft. package, the company claims. Suggested list price of the Krone BigPack 1290 HDP w/o knives: $171,545. Contact Krone NA Inc., Dept. FIN, Box 18880, Memphis, TN 38181, 901/842-6011, <a href="http://www.krone-northamerica.com">www.krone-northamerica.com.</a></p>
Since then, numerous other companies have introduced their own versions of high-density large square balers.
“The primary advantage of all these balers is you can get up to a few tons more per truckload than you could with a standard baler, making the bales more economical to transport,” Tietz says. “They also can reduce storage needs by 20% in some cases.”
The high-density balers can be used to bale biomass crops like cornstalks and miscanthus, which weigh less than alfalfa and must be compacted to reach the maximum load limit, Tietz says. They also can be used to pack shipping containers for the export market, because the high-density bales do not need to be re-baled for export.
4. Moisture meter
Measuring the moisture content of hay bales has always been important to keep bales from spoiling or overheating in storage. But there’s never been an easy and accurate way to do it, Tietz says.
The most common way, he says, is to measure the conductivity of the bale with a hay moisture probe or moisture reader. But in 2010, International Stock Food introduced a new way, which the company claims is more accurate.
“The Gazeeka Model 870 uses microwaves [in place of conductivity] to measure bale moisture as the bales leave the baler,” Tietz says. “If a reading is above a predetermined moisture level, the meter sprays paint on both sides of the bale at that location. Then an alarm sounds to tell the operator he has a wet bale.”
The baler-mounted meter is designed to work on any big square baler. It is priced at $8,190 and comes complete with mounting brackets. Call International Stock Food at 800/497-4243, or visit <a href="http://www.isfglobal.com">www.isfglobal.com.</a></p>
5. Bale tags
Separating good bales from the bad ones used to be a manual process. But in 2008, Harvest Tec partnered with ThingMagic, a provider of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, to introduce a system that stores pertinent information in a microchip attached to each bale. The microchip is inside an RFID tag that’s wrapped around twine in the bale chamber. A transmitter sends data to the microchip on radio waves. The tags are read by a hand-held scanner or loader-mounted reader, like the one on this New Holland skid-steer loader.
Harvest Tec markets the Individual Bale Identification System under different names as an add-on for a number of popular baler models, including models from New Holland, AGCO and Case IH.
Harvest Tec says the baler-mounted apparatus costs about $5,000, and the scanner kit, including hand-held and loader-mounted antennae, sells for $1,900. Rolls of tags cost 60¢/tag.
For more information, contact your local equipment dealer; contact ThingMagic at 866/833-4069, <a href="http://www.thingmagic.com">www.thingmagic.com;</a></p> or contact Harvest Tec, Dept. FIN, Box 63, Hudson, WI 54016, 800/635-7468, <a href="http://www.harvesttec.com">www.harvesttec.com.</a></p>