Friday, 17 May 2019 10:28

Keeping it short and sharp

Written by  Mark Daniel
The knives automatically remain sharp during operation. The knives automatically remain sharp during operation.

When harvesting grass silage, farmers and contractors strive to get the highest possible forage quality to increase profits.

A key influence on feed quality is the theoretical chopped length, whether by forage harvester, loader wagon or round baler.

Short-chopped forage leads to a faster pH reduction, reducing the risk of fermentation failure. And it has a positive effect on the stability of the grass silage and on livestock health and performance. 

Cattle have incisors only in the lower jaw, with the upper jaw consisting of a horn plate. So they swallow grass almost without having chewed it. When grass is short chopped, the forage has a larger surface area and more energy is absorbed. And it stimulates saliva flow, which in turn has a positive effect on rumination. 

The optimum chopped length is about 20 - 60mm. The higher the proportion of short particles in the segment up to 60mm, the better the performance of the ruminant

Austrian machinery maker Pöttinger says it focuses on this requirement when developing its machines. Its Impress round balers achieve a theoretical 36mm length from 32 knives, while the Torro and Jumbo loader wagons achieve a 34mm theoretical length of cut. 

A recent study by the noted Austrian research institute JR Josephinum Research Wieselburg showed the distribution frequency of particle lengths with the Torro and Jumbo loader wagons is 86% at <40mm and for particle lengths of 40 – 80mm only 11%.

Sharp knives can guarantee optimum chopping quality, lower power consumption and help increase output. As the sharpness of the knives deteriorates during the working day, Pottingers’s Twinblade reversible blades can be turned without the need for tools, ensuring that the crop is presented to sharp knives during a long working day. 

Optional Autocut automated sharpening on the loader wagons guarantees the knives are always sharp during operation, helping reduce power and fuel consumption by up to 20% and reducing daily maintenance by 45 minutes.

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