The accuracy of a new baler-mounted moisture meter is enabling growers and custom operators to spend more time baling, claims Greg Noble, Gazeeka product coordinator at International Stock Food, Woodstock, GA.

“It allows them to go out and start baling earlier, and that allows them to get a greener color and better nutrition because they save alfalfa leaves,” says Noble. “They feel comfortable enough that the unit is accurate that they can go ahead and bale when they wouldn’t bale otherwise.”

Introduced last year, the Gazeeka Model 870 uses microwaves to measure the moisture of entire bales as they leave the baler.

Readings are taken 50 times per second, and the average moisture content of each bale appears on a screen in the tractor cab. If a reading is above a predetermined moisture level, the meter sprays paint on both sides of the bale at that location. At the same time, an alarm sounds to tell the operator he has a wet bale.

That feature is making it popular among growers targeting the hay export market, says Noble.

“This thing works awesome for the export business because they can identify bales that shouldn’t go to the press,” he says.

The unit is imported from Australia, where it’s been marketed for several years. Peter Vinelli, owner of International Stock Food, saw one on a baler there, then brought a meter to the U.S. to test its accuracy. Core samples were collected from several bales and sent to a lab for moisture testing. Readings from the baler-mounted meter were all within half a percent of the lab results, according to the company.

It will work on any big square baler, says Noble. Operated by the tractor’s electrical system, it has two boxes, or antennae, one on each side of the bale chamber. Microwaves move from one box across to a mirror in the second box and back to the first box to calculate the moisture.

“We sell these units through equipment dealers, and we’ve got several dealers spread throughout the country,” he says.” We expect them to be able to install the units and show the buyers how to use them and then do the follow-up work if there’s any required.”

The meter is priced at $8,190 and comes complete with mounting brackets.

“We’ve got several people in Australia who have already traded balers and moved them from one baler to the next,” says Noble. “They’re simple to move.”

For more information, call 800-497-4243 or visit www.isfglobal.com.