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Brand new product addresses forage-making bugbear
SilaScale is a brand new innovation which overcomes a problem which has beset the forage-making industry since silage additives were first introduced. The SilaScale comprises a robust system of load cells fitted to one trailer, the ‘master trailer’, within a fleet of silage trailers. This continuously measures the weight of forage harvested, and communicates this information via Bluetooth to the digital flow meter of the additive pump, adjusting the flow of product on a second-by-second basis.
Designed and trialled in the UK by forage preservation specialists, Kelvin Cave Ltd, the SilaScale gives complete accuracy of additive delivery, avoiding both under- and over-application, which could both compromise forage quality and increase costs of production.
However, until now there has been no system available to ensure the accuracy of additive delivery, with most farmers and contractors basing their application rates on guesswork.
“The operator guesses the throughput of the forage harvester; guesses the weight of crop in the silage trailer; and often guesses the output of the additive pump,” says Andy Strzelecki, technical director for Kelvin Cave Ltd and inventor of the system.
However, once the SilaScale is installed and the desired application rate selected, the equipment will continuously adjust the flow rates according to the fresh weight of forage entering the trailer.
This means, for example, that dry matter changes during the course of the day which influence the weight and density of the load, will be continuously reflected in the additive delivery rate.
“When the master trailer is full and breaks away from the forage harvester to go and tip its load, the flowmeter fixes its flow rate at the average for that load and continues to apply at this rate as subsequent trailers are filled,” explains Mr Strzelecki. “When the master trailer returns, the wireless connection is re-established automatically, and as the trailer is filled, the flow rate from the pump is recalibrated.”
With crop weights recorded 60 times a second and the information transmitted wirelessly to the flow meter every second, the SilaScale’s precision of additive delivery is unparalleled.
“Applying silage preservatives and additives can have a major influence on forage quality,” remarks Mr Strzelecki. “Applying too little will often mean the product will not produce the desired effect but applying too much rarely results in an enhancement over and above that achieved with the recommended dose rate.
“Both under- and over-applying are likely to be uneconomical in that under-use can lead to poor forage preservation while over-use results in extra, unnecessary cost.
“A farmer or contractor who is certain that the right type of additive will be delivered in the correct quantity can not only be more confident of a successful outcome but will potentially make substantial financial savings,” he says.