Hesston by Massey Ferguson gave North American producers their first look at the new Bale Link bale management app during World Ag Expo 2020.The app allows hay producers to identify each bale via an attached RFID chip, then track the bale and its production information from the field on a tablet or smartphone. The app is available for Android and iOS.
Matt LeCroy, AGCO tactical marketing manager for hay and forage, says Bale Link will help hay producers more efficiently manage their hay production through the busy production season. Unique identification of each bale will make it easier to move, store, group and sell hay based on bale size, bale weight, moisture, forage cut length and other production factors. The app also provides a solution for hay growers and livestock producers who would like a record that accurately traces each bale from the field and farm where it was produced.
During baling, a radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip is attached to each bale, woven into one of the six strands of baling twine. BaleCreateTM baler software in the Hesston by Massey Ferguson large square baler captures the serial number of the RFID chip, along with bale weight and length, number of flakes, moisture, date and time baled, GPS location where the bale was created and additive applied (if any). The bale information is transferred from the baler to secure AGCO servers using the AGCO Connectivity Module (ACM). The ACM is a telematics module found in many AGCO machines.
After baling, the producer scans the RFID chip with an RFID reader (hand-held or mounted on the bale loader or stacker), which retrieves the bale’s unique serial number and communicates the bale ID to the Bale Link app through a Bluetooth® Low Energy Connection. The bale data is retrieved from the AGCO server via cellular service then displayed on a tablet or smartphone. Historical data also can be stored on the tablet or smartphone for offline viewing.
“With the Bale Link app and a scan of the RFID tag on a bale, you’ll be able to access all the production information for that bale,” LeCroy says. “When bales are stacked for storage, they can be grouped based on any aspect of the production criteria. When it’s time to load for delivery, loads can easily be filled with hay that fits the criteria the buyer requests. Bale Link will be a great time saver for the producer and will provide the hay buyer with a system for traceability, as well as assurance the hay matches specifications.”
The app allows the user to identify, group and manage hay by field, stack or truck load, and to generate a report showing the data for each bale within the respective group. The information can be emailed as a summarized PDF report which is accompanied by a detailed CSV data file.
Make management decisions with smart data
Using Bale Link, hay producers have the information they need to manage bale collection, movement, storage and traceability, as well as create reports to analyze and improve production, logistics, marketing and profitability.
Bale Link provides:
• Valuable inventory data, making it easier for hay producers to know exactly what is in stock, where it is located on the farm and what is being loaded for shipping
• Instant location and identification for the producer’s records, as well as date and time bales are loaded for trucking to the buyer
• Summary reports sorting bales by criteria such as risk (high moisture, low quality), value (dry matter, preservative applied, field geo-boundary), size (length, weight), date baled and geolocation where the bale was created
• Data security and integrity, as no data is stored on the RFID chip itself. Only the registered user has access to the data in the cloud. Producers can share data reports via email with dealers, buyers or other producers, creating a level of transparency about the hay.
The app will be field tested with select customers in 2020, with limited commercial availability in 2021. For the 2022 hay harvest season, Bale Link will be commercially available and offered for use on both Android and iOS operating systems on tablets and smartphones.