Real Time Forage Analysis Improves Beef and Dairy Performance

Dan Miller
By  Dan Miller , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
John Deere's HarvestLab 3000 (Photo courtesy of John Deere)

John Deere brings real time forage analysis to the field and at feeding with its HarvestLab 3000.

Mounted to forage harvesters, HarvestLab measures characteristics such as moisture, dry matter, protein, starch, neutral detergent fiber or acid detergent fiber.

Using near-infrared spectroscopy, HarvestLab 3000 measures up to 10 nutrient values 4,000 times per second. It offers integrated, automatic length of cut adjustments based on moisture ranges preset by the operator. This feature helps ensure optimum bunker density and high-quality silage. In addition, inoculants can be more precisely applied during harvest based on sugar and dry-matter readings. The end result is high-quality silage with greater feed value and reduced spoilage, Deere explained in a news release.

Used in its stationary mode, HarvestLab 3000 analyzes feed rations for crude protein, fiber, and other characteristics to track the quality of the silage put into the bunk or silo -- and the quality changes taking place in the silage before it is put into a dairy ration.

HarvestLab 3000 also can map and document crop characteristics such as moisture or starch content in different forage crops and silage tops.

"This is a huge benefit for beef and dairy producers, custom harvesters, and livestock nutritionists wanting to optimize the nutritional value of the feed," said John Mishler, John Deere precision-ag technology tactical marketing manager. "These nutrient values can be wirelessly transmitted to the John Deere Operations Center for analysis, future crop and nutrient application planning and for archiving field and crop history."

The harvest data layers collected by HarvestLab 3000 can be sent to John Deere Operations Center either by wireless streaming via JDLink Connect or by USB thumb drive. "That data can then be used to evaluate current crop year inputs with an eye toward making even better decisions in the future," Mishler said.

There are a number of software providers that have interfaces with the John Deere Operations Center and can share data between their system and Deere's system. A list of those providers is available under the "more tools" icon in John Deere Operations Center.

HarvestLab 3000 boasts 2 GB of memory. Advanced diagnostics make it easier for users to quickly troubleshoot issues if they arise, Mishler said.

Customers can add Harvest Lab to their model year 2018 orders for John Deere self-propelled-forage harvesters. HarvestLab can be retrofitted to older machines.

For more details, visit Retail pricing is available from your John Deere dealer.

If you have a machinery or technology idea, please call me at 205-414-4736 or send an email.

Dan Miller can be reached at

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