Automating a Commercial Swather for Harvesting Forage Plots
- Calvin H. Pearson and
- Lot Robinson
Forage plot harvesters having sicklebars are representative of technology currently used by commercial forage producers. Commercially built forage plot harvesters that are highly automated have been developed in recent years, but because of their small size they are not wellsuited for operating in fields with rough terrain, particularly fields with furrows. Furthermore, automated forage plot harvesters that use sicklebars are highly expensive, costing $30 000 and more. An automated forage plot harvester was developed at Colorado State University using a field-scale commercial swather. A weigh bin was designed and fabricated that attaches underneath the swather directly behind the hay conditioner. This article describes, in detail, how to construct the forage plot harvester. The plot harvester can be modified quickly for use in harvesting both research plots and commercial fields. It has an electronic weighing system and a belt conveyor in the bottom of the weigh bin for discharging weighed samples. The plot harvester has performed well in furrow-irrigated fields. Alfalfa samples weighing up to 68 kg have been harvested, and the average time required to harvest small plots was 50 s. The cost of materials for the weigh bin, including the electronic weighing system, was $2550.
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