SilageSnap, a new app available this July for your mobile device, can provide dairy producers and custom operators an accurate method for checking the kernel processor roller settings during harvest. Hopefully, this will improve corn silage quality and its available energy for dairy cows.
“The problem is, when the harvester goes through the field, there’s no way for farmers to tell how well they cracked the kernels,” said Brian Luck, assistant professor and extension specialist in the department of biological systems engineering at UW-Madison. He spoke at the lowa-Wisconsin Silage Conference held last month in Dubuque, Iowa.
In collaboration with Rebecca Willett, associate professor in electrical and computer engineering at UW-Madison, the team developed a tool that can give farmers kernel processing scores in the field during harvest instead of waiting weeks later for the silage lab analysis.
The app works by taking a picture of the corn kernels after they are separated from the rest of the chopped plant material.
To use this app, simply follow these steps:
1. Fill a bucket or plastic container with water.
2. Take a 32-ounce cup of a silage sample and pour it in the water.
3. Skim the floating plant material off the top and pour off the water; at the bottom you should be left with the kernels.
4. Place the corn kernels on a black or dark, solid-colored background. To calibrate the size on your camera, use one of four U.S. coins (penny, nickel, dime, quarter) and place it, along with the kernels, all spread out and not touching.
5. Take the picture.
SilageSnap results include average particle diameter and two-dimensional surface area of every kernel in the image. A diameter of 4.75 mm is the recommended size for kernel processing. Anything larger than that will likely not be readily digestible by the cow.
SilageSnap will be available on Android and Apple/iOS smartphones and tablets. The app is expected to be ready for use by early July 2018. It will be available in the Google Play Store and on iTunes. Brian Luck will post it on his university website as well at wimachineryextension.bse.wisc.edu.