Sensing miscanthus STEM bending force for maximizing throughput rate in a disk mower-conditioner

S. K. Mathanker, A. C. Hansen, T. E. Grift, K. C. Ting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One of the reasons for relatively high biomass harvesting cost is challenges in adjusting the ground speed of harvesting machines with respect to the yield level within a field. A real-time biomass yield sensor that can predict the yield in front of a machine could be a useful tool to control ground speed. It was hypothesized that the force required to bend Miscanthus stems is a reliable predictor of biomass yield. Based on this novel concept, a stem bending force-sensing system was developed and field tested with a disk mower-conditioner. A bale-specific method, segmenting the field area from which a bale was formed, was developed to correlate sensed bending force and Miscanthus yield. The measured bending force showed a logarithmic relationship (R2 = 0.80) with Miscanthus yield. The average error in predicting balespecific yield was 10.3% for training data and 12.9% for validation data. The average error in predicting plot yield was 3.4% for training plots and 10.0% for validation plots. Using the developed logarithmic correlation model, yield maps were also generated. For the specific case analyzed, a proper control strategy to maximize throughput rate (mass per unit time) would be to either operate the mower-conditioner at the maximum feasible ground speed (9 km h-1) or at the maximum achievable throughput rate (60 Mg h-1). The yield-sensor controlled machine would result in 44.2% higher field capacity, 41.3% higher throughput rate, and 31.2% lower mowing-conditioning cost for the specific case analyzed compared to the operator-controlled machine. Studies are needed to extend the stem bending force-sensing concept to other thickstemmed crop harvesting machines, such as sugarcane harvesters and coppice harvesters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-12
Number of pages8
JournalTransactions of the ASABE
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


  • Bioenergy
  • Biomass
  • Cost
  • Harvesting
  • Miscanthus
  • Mowing
  • Throughput rate
  • Yield map
  • Yield sensor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Food Science
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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