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App Aims to Help Farmers Become Efficient During Corn Harvest
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 08/31/2017

A new online tool developed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison could save farmers time and money during the fall feed-corn harvest and make for more content, productive cows year-round. With just a handful of harvested corn, the app allows farmers to gauge the effectiveness of their harvesting machinery so that they can achieve the highest-quality cracked corn.

"Cracked corn makes the feed easier to digest, so cows can produce more milk," says Brian Luck, an assistant professor of biological systems engineering at UW-Madison and a specialist with the University of Wisconsin Extension.

Excellently cracked corn can boost milk production by up to two pounds per cow per day, according to studies conducted in school's Dairy Science Department.

Harvest machinery cracks corn by passing pieces of plant material between two grinding roller-wheels. Wear and tear on the machine can make it less effective, and some fields of corn resist cracking more than others.

Farmers can fine-tune their harvests to a certain extent by controlling the width of the gap between the wheels: Narrower spaces squeeze kernels more strongly, but also slow down the equipment.

The smartphone app is a convenient and accurate in-the-field alternative to after-the-fact processing scores.

Meanwhile, the app gives farmers information that frees them from the uncertain trade-off between creeping through the corn rows slowly to thoroughly pulverize every last piece of plant material or speeding up the process at the risk of harvesting an entire silo's worth of lower value feed corn.

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