Customer story

HarvestLab® utilizes real-time analytics for a more productive and sustainable agricultural production

Precision agriculture will lead to huge reductions in the use of water, pesticides and fertilizer – and increase yields at the same time. Through technology, farmers get better use of their fields, more effective production and best possible quality. In short, higher earnings, more food and feed and a more sustainable way of farming to the benefit of the environment.

Take Norwegian farmer Lars Erik Megarden and his efforts to optimise grass production for his cows. He and his colleague Jan Erik Glåmen have invested in a forage harvester from John Deere, equipped with HarvestLab technology which delivers real-time data about the biological composition and quality of the grass as it’s being harvested.

HarvestLab registers more than 4,000 scans per second of the grass feed. This means 40 kg of grass per second, or 250 scans per ten tons of grass. Based on this information, it’s possible to analyse the amount, dry matter levels and values of a number of factors in the grass such as protein, sugar, starch, fibre and ash. This way, you get an overview of the specific nutritional values of the grass along with its total amount of energy.

At the heart of HarvestLab is a piece of software from spectroscopy expert Camo Analytics. “It’s great to see how our spectroscopic analysis software provides actionable insights for the farmer and can make a significant difference in sustainability, quality and amount of food available,” says CEO Raman Bhatnagar at Camo Analytics.

From field to feed

In addition to measuring harvested product, the HarvestLab sensor can also be used to measure the nutrition values of the feed given to animals.

“To all meat producers, it’s a challenge to know if the cattle get the optimal feed composition. We can’t test meat quality until after the cow has been slaughtered, while milk producers can test the milk and adjust the feed accordingly,” says farmer Lars Erik Megarden.

“We only get one shot before the cow is turned into beef, and the data I get from HarvestLab is invaluable for me, because I have a much better grasp of what I’m feeding my cattle. Using today’s technology, I know about 70-80% of what I feed my cattle. That’s amazing and a great addition to my overall knowledge of my holding. But personally, I’d like to know more,” he concludes with a smile.

Growing analytics

Smart farming and precision agriculture is growing and has for some years, according to Helge Malum in Felleskjøpet, the Norwegian agricultural cooperative.

“Norwegian farmers are adaptable and tech-savvy. There’s a great curiosity about new technology in farming, particularly with the number of younger farmers taking over farms. Dairy robots using data analytics and GPS-guided use of machinery on fields is quite common with many farmers,” says Technical Manager Helge Malum.

“Better technological opportunities increase the available data and offer more ways to improve farming, so we can say that Norwegian farming is facing a small revolution. The entire farm and operations can be connected, so the farmer can make better, more well-informed decisions,” Malum says.

Next is hyperspectral imaging

According to a recent report from Food and Land Use Coalition new technology is a key part of ensuring that the world will have enough food in the future. For precision agriculture the next step is to use drones equipped with a hyperspectral camera. This will provide farmers with hyper-detailed analysis of the field and make it easier to make the right effort in the right place at the right time, down to the individual stalk of grass or crop.

Read more about hyperspectral imaging.

Pictures provided by NEO

About HarvestLab®

ZEISS HarvestLab®, developed in cooperation with John Deere, is a near infrared sensor, which measures the moisture content of the crop continuously while harvesting is in progress. The result is more accurate than the analytical process used up to now – the dry cabinet method.
Visit HarvestLab


Farmer Lars Erik Megarden and CEO Raman Bhatnagar interviewed by NRK, the public service broadcaster in Norway, discussing smart farming and how to create a more productive and sustainable agricultural production.
Watch interview


Solving global challenges

Farmers, scientists and innovators all over the world are working hard to ensure that the world will have enough food in the future. A key part of the solution is new technology according to a recent report from Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU) that focuses on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Read the FOLU report
UN Sustainable Development Goals

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