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Agriculture Technology Podcast: Ep. 146 HarvestLab 3000

24 Jun 2021

RDO Product Specialist and technology expert Jay Garcia joins host Tony Kramer for a discussion on HarvestLabTM 3000.

This sensor enables an accurate measurement and documentation of dry matter, starch, protein, neutral detergent fiber, and acid detergent fiber in different crop types.

Tune in to Episode 146 and learn more about John Deere’s technology solutions.


Each month, we share the latest in agriculture technology. Don’t miss an episode by subscribing to our podcast on Spotify, iTunesSoundCloud, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Have a story idea or a precision ag topic we should highlight? Connect with us on social media:  Instagram | Facebook | YouTube | Twitter and connect with podcast host, Tony Kramer on Twitter at: @RDOTonyK.

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Catch the full transcript here:

Tony Kramer: Hi, I'm Tony Kramer with RDO Equipment Company. Thanks for tuning in to another episode of the Agriculture Technology Podcast. Today we are going to be talking about the HarvestLabTM 3000.

With that, let's get back to the show. I'm excited to welcome Jay Garcia, who is a product specialist with the RDO Equipment Company. Thanks for joining us on the show today, Jay. To get started, I'd like to hear a little bit more about you and your background, and how you got involved in the industry.

Jay Garcia: Yes, thanks, Tony. I grew up here in Pasco, Washington, almost my entire life. I didn't grow up on a farm. I was more like that city-slicker cousin that my dad shipped me off one year to go help all my uncles at my uncles' farm down south. That's how my interest with farming really began. Then about nine years ago, RDO Equipment gave me the opportunity to come on board and gave me the opportunity and resources to learn there is everything about farming. I started in the parts department. then after that did a little bit of sales and then came onto the product specialist team.

I've been with RDO for about nine years now almost in August. Just been having a ton of fun, learning a lot of stuff about farming.

Tony: That's awesome. Yes, definitely a little more of an unconventional way of getting into the ag industry of not growing up with farming, but being some distant relation to farming, but that's awesome to get your interest and your involvement in the ag industry and then find a company like RDO to give you the opportunities to learn more and continue pursuing this passion in ag. Very cool to hear that background. Like you said, you're on the product specialist team out there in our Northwest region, Washington State. You guys have got quite a bit of forage harvesting going on out there, which is why I brought you on the show today, Jay, is to talk a little bit more about the HarvestLabTM 3000 sensor.

Now, let's just start out. What is the HarvestLabTM 3000, and what are the different ways we can use this sensor?

Jay: Yes. The HarvestLabTM 3000 is one sensor that can be used in three different applications. When you have the forage constituent activation in there, and you put it on your self-propelled forage harvester, you get real-time ingredient measurements on the go as you're harvesting through the fields. Once you're done harvesting, you can get your stationery kit out, take it off your harvester, and then you can use it to do mobile feed analysis, basically, measure all the components of your total mix ratio in your silage pile to make sure you get the correct mix, rations to achieve higher mix yields for your cattle.

That way, you can also monitor silage quality all year round and not have any downtime on that sensor. You can also put another manure constituent activation on there, a new set of calibration files, and then you got a liquid manure sensing machine. You can mount it on a tanker or a drag hose set up as well. It'll measure nitrogen, ammonium, phosphate, potassium, dry matter, as well as volume.

Tony: Let's talk a little bit first about the forage harvesting, whether it be mounting it on your self-propelled forage harvester, or just using that mobile feed analysis or that stationery kit. What is the sensor doing? How does it measure these constituents, and what is being measured and/or predicted? What are we looking at here with the HarvestLabTM 3000?

Jay: It uses NIR technology, near-infrared technology, to measure and predict moisture, dry matter, ash, your acid detergent fibers, neutral detergent fibers, well as crude protein. How it does that, NIR technology, it's got a halogen light in there that beams directly into the crop as it passes through the lens. Then as light energy is transmitted and is partially absorbed by the crop or reflected. Same way the human eye recognizes colors, humans see the color green because objects like pine trees reflect light at a specific wavelength, the same way as the HarvestLabTM 3000 recognizes nutrients in crops based on those wavelengths that are reflected in that near-infrared spectrum.

Tony: Yes, that's really cool to be able to utilize that NIR, near-infrared technology, to be able to get that real-time prediction or real-time information as you're running that forage harvester through the field, or even like you said, you get that mobile station or that desktop station to be able to do feed analysis, not having to send in samples to the lab, you can do it right there on the tailgate of your pickup with that. One of the other really neat features I know with the self-propelled forage harvesters, if we have this on one of those machines, it's also capable of site-specific documentation when it comes to the moisture, the dry matter, everything like that.

Tell us a little bit about what we can get out of the documentation from this machine.

Jay: Yes. In the operation center, as you're harvesting, you'll get all these cool map layers that you can go later on and view. You can get dry matter, dry yield, even how much of the inoculant dosing you've used, also your length of cut, moisture, wet weight, and then total tonnage in the operation center.

Tony: Yes, that's really similar to a combine, a yield monitor on a combine. It sounds like you're able to get those documentation, those map layers right into your operation center, whereas without the HarvestLabTM 3000, you wouldn't have this level of information. The other thing is you talked about length of cut. There is also an auto-lock or an auto length of cut system, associated with this as well. Is that correct?

Jay: That's correct. Yes, that's the icing on the cake, automated length of cut for a consistent feed quality. It adjusts the length of cut based on your crop moisture. You can go in there and set what level of moisture do you want to what length of cut to improve your bunk density. Quality forage comes from properly packed silage, which is directly related to the moisture content and length of cut of your silage.

Tony: Definitely a feature there. You talk about the quality of forage and making sure that when you're going out there, you're chopping that silage whatever form of silage it may be. You obviously want that stuff to last, you want it to be high-quality feed. That auto-lock or auto length of the cut system seems to be a very neat feature. Now, we've talked a little bit about the forage, the self-propelled forage harvesters, the mobile unit, or the stationary unit. Now, one of the other things you said, is manure constituent sensing. I want to talk a little bit about that because this one sensor can do all of these different functionalities as long as you have the proper activations.

Tell us a little bit, Jay, about the manure constituent sensing what's involved and how it all works.

Jay: Like I said, you just throw in another activation on the sensor with a different set of calibration files, and then you're able to monitor nitrogen, ammonium, phosphate, potassium, dry matter, and volume as you're applying your liquid manure through the field. You're not just taking one sample at a go, your whole load, or all your lagoon. The nutrient levels varying throughout the whole load. As time passes, stuff settles, so nutrient levels change throughout that entire application. This way, you can better monitor that and better apply those nutrients in your field.

Tony: Now, is this a way to just monitor those constituents within the manure, or are you also able to control your application rate based on constituent levels?

Jay: You can go in there and set a total pounds of nitrogen you would want to apply per acre. Then with the tractor implement automation, you can either speed up or slow down to make sure you hit your target rate of those target levels you want to apply.

Tony: That to me in my mind-- Here in the Midwest where I'm at, we don't have a ton of this liquid manure going on. There seems to be more and more coming because obviously, I believe it's with cattle or with hogs, but any sort of liquid manure. Just to be able to have that control to watch your N application versus just a flat rate of product, that is really cool. Let's talk a little bit about compatibility across all three of these uses, I guess two of them, the one is just a desktop or a tailgate-type stationary unit. What is the compatibility when it comes to the self-propelled forage harvesters as well as manure spreaders?

Jay: For the self-propelled forage harvesters, you can actually put them on 7000 series, 8000, and 9000 series self-propelled forage harvesters. [unintelligible 00:11:41] HarvestLab ready from the factory, we can order a kit to make it all work. For the manure constituents on the tractor side, if you want to be able to utilize that tractor implement automation I was telling you about, you would have to have a seven, eight or nine 30 Series tractor with a power shift transmission or any 6R, 7R, 8R, 9R would work, and you'd be able to utilize those tools.

Tony: What about for manure spreaders themselves? You talked about either on your liquid tank or on a dragline system. Are there any specifics to what you can or cannot put that sensor on?

Jay: You can't. All you got to do is you can actually have an ISO harness in there, and all it needs is switch power constant in your ground, and you can basically run it on a semi, but you just won't be able to utilize that speed automation we were talking about, but you can still, you can manually do that if you want as you're going through the field, you can speed up or slow down yourself if you still want to hit that target rate of nitrogen that you'd like.

Tony: It sounds like the compatibility is quite open. Just a matter of getting it mounted, getting it in line with those manure spreaders, and you talked about the 7, 8, and 9000 series self-propelled forage harvesters. Seems like quite a bit of compatibility is out there. I would imagine there's questions that can be answered if people are curious about that. Now, Jay, I know you've got one, for sure, of these manure constituent sensing systems out there, but you've also got a number of forage harvesters out there. Do you have any success story that you'd like to share with our listeners about something good that came out of the HarvestLabTM 3000 sensor?

Jay: Yes. I actually do. Not too long ago, actually, we were demoing a feed mixer out here. Our agronomist Erin Hightower was involved. This customer is specifically big fan of case. We were demoing this feed mixer to him. We started thinking he gets all his corn harvested from a custom harvester out here that runs a green machine with the HarvestLabTM 3000. He also gets his liquid manure from his lagoon applied from another custom applicator out here that runs the manure constituents on that HarvestLabTM 3000. We started talking to him about it.

I was like, "Do you know what you can get out of this?" Right away, he got an operation center. Now he's able to view that data, those custom applicators in the custom harvester guys are doing out on his fields, he can view direct his operation center. Now, he just purchased his new green tractor and is looking at a rate controller and a HarvestLabTM 3000as well.

Tony: That's awesome. That ties perfectly into that site-specific documentation we were talking about for a customer to go into the operation center. Whether it's their own machines, or it's a custom outfit that comes in and does it for them, they're able to go into the operation center and see what they're doing, what's happening, the quality of forage that's coming in or the quality of manure that's going out. That is a really cool story to hear about getting this customer more in tune with the HarvestLabTM 3000, the information that can come off of it. Now Jay, if somebody wants to learn more about the HarvestLabTM 3000, where can they go, and who can they talk to?

Jay: They can call their local John Deere dealer, or they can get online and in the sales manual, there's a lot of information there. There's also some cool demo guides that they can go in there and check out. It's got pretty cool information on there. Then also this podcast and some YouTube videos. I know there's some pretty cool YouTube videos out there.

Tony: Awesome. I just want to thank you, Jay, for taking the time today to sit down with me and talk a little bit about the HarvestLabTM 3000 sensor. This is cool technology that I don't get to see very often, but I'm glad you have the knowledge base and the customers out there using it so we can sit down and chat about it. Thanks again for doing this.

Jay: No. Thanks for having me, Tony.

Tony: Thanks again for tuning in to another episode. If you have questions about the technology and products discussed or have ideas about future episodes, please leave them in the comments below. You can also subscribe to RDO's YouTube channel and be in the know about each episode or tune in on any streaming service. Thanks again for listening.

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