More from: moisture tester

Hay, Moisture Testing, and Drought Conditions

Imagine being a hay farmer trying to survive under drought conditions. When there’s ample rain, farmers can get at least two cuttings per year and sometimes three. Then their biggest concern is making sure moisture content isn’t too high. But under drought conditions, moisture content is the least of their concerns.

A farmer who buys one of our moisture testers uses it to make sure stored hay does not get too moist or too dry. Moisture content is important to the quality of the hay and, subsequently, the satisfaction of the customer who buys it. But under drought conditions, everything changes. If farmers don’t get enough rain, they can’t even grow a decent crop to begin with.

That appears to be the case in Southwest Colorado this spring. The late winter and spring have been so dry that some farmers have already decided to do just one cutting this year. Some vegetable producers are only working an eighth of their land while cattle producers are reducing the size of their herds for lack of water. It is not a good situation.

Two Ways Around Drought

Drought is nothing new in agriculture. Indeed, some of the longest running family operations in the country have made a practice of planning for drought for hundreds of years. So what can they do, exactly? There are a couple of possibilities, beginning with field irrigation.

Irrigating fields is one way to get around mild to moderate drought conditions. It doesn’t necessarily need to rain as long as the irrigation system is working. But even this method has it downsides. For instance, what do you do after several years of persistent drought leading to water rationing?

Another option is to rotate fields. Field rotation used to be a common practice in the days before large-scale, commercial agriculture. Today though, not a lot of farmers practice it. They really should.

Consider the case of Montana farmer Ray Bannister who operates a 250-head ranch near the town of Wibaux. He began rotating his fields more than 20 years ago and has never had a problem producing hay – even under drought conditions. Bannister explains that allowing a field to rest for one year produces of bountiful crop the next. So that’s what he does.

His hay fields are rested every other year. As for the grazing field, he allows the cattle to severely graze before letting the field rest for 23 months. Bannister says that in the decades he’s been practicing field rotation, he’s never had a problem growing hay or having adequate grazing fields.

When the Hay Does Grow

The farmers in Southwest Colorado will hopefully get at least one hay cutting this year. And when that cutting comes, they will still have to pay attention to moisture content. This year, the biggest challenge will be making sure hay doesn’t dry out. That’s where one of our moisture testers comes into play.

A hay moisture tester consists of an electrified rod and a meter. You insert the rod into a bale of hay and turn the power on. The rod sends electrical current through the hay and receives it on its return. Moisture levels are measured based on the level of resistance to that current.

For the record, we also carry a variety of grain testers. Regardless of whether you are farming hay or corn, you know how critical moisture content is to the finished product. Don’t leave your crop to chance by guessing on its moisture level. Invest in a new moisture tester and know for sure what you’re dealing with.

 


How Do Hay Moisture Testers Work?

A farmer goes out to the barn with a moisture tester in hand. He chooses a bale, inserts the probe, and pushes a button. Almost instantly a number appears on the moisture tester’s LCD screen. The farmer knows right away whether the moisture level in his hay is acceptable or not.

That’s all well and good, but how does it work? How can a single probe measure the amount of water in a bale of hay? If you have ever wanted to know how moisture testers work, this blog post is your answer. Here we explain the basic principles of testing all sorts of grasses and grains for moisture content.

Moisture Content and Density

The first thing to know is that measuring moisture content relies on the principle of density. It is not like bales of hay are dripping with so much water that it can be collected and measured in a beaker. The moisture content is so low that you cannot see it. In some cases, you can’t even feel it. Therefore, measuring moisture relies on measuring the density of the product.

The more water in a bale of hay, the denser that bale is. The opposite is also true. So hay moisture testers are not really looking for water they can measure. They are simply measuring density. Moisture content can be extrapolated from that density measurement.

The tricky part about this is that different grains and grasses have different natural densities. This is why a moisture tester designed for hay isn’t appropriate for grains or coffee. It is why you cannot chop up a small amount of hay and effectively test it using a grain tester. You have to use a tester appropriate to the product you’re trying to measure.

Measuring Product Density

So, how does a moisture tester actually measure density? By sending electrical current throughout the product and then measuring it when it comes back. Bear in mind that water conducts electricity very nicely. So does air, but not nearly as well as water.

The probe typical of a hay moisture tester actually consists of two components. One discharges the electrical current while the other receives it. This creates a complete circuit that can be measured by the tester’s internal components. The amount of resistance in that circuit determines the density of the product.

A bale of hay with a higher moisture content will present less resistance due to the conductive properties of water. The dryer bale will present more resistance. That’s really all there is to it. Moisture content is extrapolated based on density, and density is measured according to the amount of electrical resistance in the hay.

Multiple Readings for Accuracy

While all of this may sound very scientific, note that readings vary based on how loosely baled the hay is. Accounting for such variations is a matter of taking multiple readings. That’s why you’ll see a farmer test multiple locations of a single bale, then test multiple bales in the stack. The idea is to get numerous readings that can be averaged together.

Even after all those measurements have been taken, a grower’s intuition plays a big role in understanding moisture content. Even the most accurate readings may not necessarily tell the whole truth. So farmers rely on a combination of measurements and their own knowledge and experience.

Now you know how moisture testers work. If you need a new tester for hay, grain, or coffee, we hope you will consider what Mytee Products has to offer. Our range of moisture tester products includes a number of different choices at competitive prices.


Mytee Products Expanding Our Moisture Tester Line

If you have previously browsed our selection of agricultural products you’ve probably viewed our selection of hay moisture testers.We are proud to say that we have expanded our tester line to include moisture testers for both grain and coffee. We have added a few additional products to this category as well.

Our goal is to be one of the first suppliers you think of when you need agricultural products ranging from moisture testers to hay tarps and temporary storage buildings. So if you ever have need of something we do not carry, please contact us and let us know. We are always looking for new items that we can add to our agricultural products inventory. With all of that out of the way, let’s look at moisture testers.

Hay Testers

Moisture content is more critical for hay than most people realize. A person who has no knowledge of hay farming may drive down the country road and think nothing of the bales waiting in the field to be retrieved. To them, it is just grass compacted into a rectangular or circular shape. To the farmer though, those bales represent income.

Moisture can affect income by spoiling a crop. Farmers expect some amount of loss due to moisture, but they try to mitigate losses as much as possible. The moisture tester is an important part of that effort. Simply by inserting a rod into a bale of hay, a farmer can instantly know whether the moisture content of that bale is too high or low. Then adjustments can be made accordingly.

Wise farmers routinely check moisture levels, at least several times during a given storage season. The more often, the better. We are thrilled to be able to give them a number of different moisture tester choices.

Grain Testers

Moisture level is just as important to grain growers, but for a different reason. Where hay growers are more worried about moisture content during storage periods, farmers who raise grains use moisture content to determine when it’s time to harvest. The only challenge is deciding what constitutes optimal moisture levels.

Farmers, researchers, and biologists have been arguing over grain moisture content for decades. We are getting closer to the answers as time goes by, but a lot of what goes into determining optimal moisture content is really an art perfected by the growers themselves. That’s why our grain testers are so important to them. They know what kind of moisture content they are looking for to initiate harvest. Our testers are merely tools to tell them when that moisture level has been reached.

Coffee Testers

Coffee may not necessarily be a cash crop in this country, but it still produces quite a bit of income for the growers who specialize in it. For them, moisture content signals bean maturity. This is important because moisture content also determines how a bean will be roasted, the amount of weight loss beans will undergo during the roasting process, and the quality of the finished product.

Our coffee testers tell growers everything they need to know about bean moisture content before they harvest, roast, and ship. If we can help coffee growers get it right when measuring both green and parchment beans, then we are happy to do so.

Mytee Products is working hard to find the right kinds of agricultural products to add to our inventory. We have grown our selection of moisture testers from just a few testers for hay to a much more comprehensive line that includes hay, grain, and coffee. Keep checking back to see what’s new in this category.


5 Things Cattle Ranchers Can Buy from Us

Here at Mytee Products, we are not normally known as a supplier of the kinds of products cattle ranchers need to keep their operations going. We certainly are no complete tractor supply store by any means, but we do carry a number of products that we know are important to ranchers. In this post, you will learn about five such products.

Rest assured you can always contact us if you have questions about the things you see on our website. We are as committed to our agricultural customer as we are the trucking industry. Anything we can do to support your operation, within the scope of our own business model, is worth doing.

1. Hay Tarps

Tarps are really what started it all for Mytee Products. But our inventory is not restricted only to truck tarps. We also carry hay tarps perfect for agricultural operations. Cattle ranchers use them to cover their hay during the late autumn and winter seasons, knowing how much damage moisture and bad weather can do to their feed.

We carry hay tarps for as low as $125 apiece. Ranchers can also purchase spiral anchor pins to go along with their tarps. Hay tarps are the next best thing for protecting hay in the absence of a barn or some other kind of permanent structure. And that leads us to our next item.

2. Temporary Storage Buildings

Our durable and high-quality portable storage buildings make great structures for a multitude of purposes. Ranchers can use them to store hay, cover equipment, or even as a portable pen to keep cattle out of the weather. Our inventory includes several assorted sizes and configurations to meet a variety of needs.

The smallest is an 8′ x 12′ storage shed, while the largest is a whopping 30′ x 65′ unit specifically designed for hay storage. Each of the units is easy to set up and take down with a minimal amount of effort and hand tools required.

3. Moisture Testers

As long as we are talking about protecting hay, let’s talk moisture testers. A good moisture tester could mean the difference between preserving a crop of hay and watching it go bad due to excess moisture. It is critical that cattle ranchers pay attention to their hay throughout the winter months if they expect to have enough feed to make it through until spring. A good moisture tester is part of that effort. Fortunately, we now have nearly a dozen models for our customers to choose from.

4. Fencing Material and Energizers

Keeping cattle inside designated areas is the job of electrified fencing. Yes, you can purchase fencing material and energizers directly from Mytee Products. We carry both wire and energizers for easy configuration of any size fence. Moreover, we have two different solar-powered energizers for those areas where mains power is not available.

5. Wagon and Tractor Tires

Just because cattle ranchers are raising crops does not mean they don’t use tractors and wagons, so we are here with a good selection of tires to keep their vehicles going. All our tires come from manufacturers that farmers have come to know and trust, including Carlisle and BKT.

Mytee Products may be known more for the trucking and towing-related products we stock, but we are equally committed to supporting the agricultural industry as much as we can. If you are a cattle rancher, we hope you will consider us as your main supplier of the items listed above. We hope to be able to expand our inventory in the future to better serve your needs.


Hay Moisture Content Is Important to Cattle Too

In marketing moisture testers to our agricultural customers, we frequently talk about controlling moisture content in baled hay so as to prevent spoilage that leads to crop loss. The point here is obvious. Farmers lose money on every pound of hay lost to spoilage. But did you know that hay moisture content is just as important to the cattle that will feed on that baled hay?

Moisture does funny things to baled hay. A bale has to have at least some moisture content, otherwise the crop dries out and goes bad. But too much moisture can promote the growth of all sorts of microbes that could be detrimental to cattle health. Excess moisture can also lead to spontaneous combustion during prolonged periods of winter storage.

The long and short of it is that farmers and ranchers have to control moisture levels in stored hay. One of the best ways to do that is with regular testing using a high-quality moisture tester like the ones we sell. If moisture levels are too high, the farmer or rancher needs to take action to start drying the bales.

Moisture Makes Hay Unappetizing

Ranchers and dairy farmers tend to be very particular about the feed they buy. They know a secret that hay producers may not be familiar with: cattle are not necessarily willing to eat anything. In fact, feed that has been exposed to excessive moisture can be unappetizing to both beef and dairy cattle.

Excessive moisture can reduce the protein content of hay. It can also make it more difficult to digest. Cattle being fed hay that has been exposed to too much moisture may develop digestive tract issues, causing them to eat less than they should. It is a lot like a person finding food unappetizing because of an upset stomach.

Some estimates suggest that feed intake can be reduced by half a pound or more per day if cattle find hay unappetizing. While such estimates have never been proved, anecdotal evidence does indicate that cattle eat less when they do not like their feed.

Fungi and Their Mycotoxins

Fungi and the mycotoxins they produce are yet another reason to continually test hay moisture levels with a reliable moisture tester. There are literally dozens of different fungi that can grow inside bales of already harvested hay. Fungal growth is especially problematic when hay is exposed to cool, damp conditions during flowering.

Following such conditions, growers have to be especially diligent about moisture when it comes time to harvest and baling. Otherwise, fungal growth produces mycotoxins that can lead to a litany of problems for cattle, including:

-refusal of feed
-digestive tract issues
-respiratory illnesses
-hoof disease
-death.

Some strains of fungus also produce alkaloids that are problematic for cattle. Some of those alkaloids can cause infertility and hoof disease. Farmers in North America have nearly 4-dozen alkaloids to worry about.

Moisture Levels Are No Laughing Matter

As you can see, moisture levels in stored hay have to be kept in check. They are no laughing matter. Hay producers certainly do not want to lose money to spoilage, so they keep track of moisture levels as best they can. Ranchers and dairy farmers do not want spoilage to lead to sickness and disease in their animals, so they keep an eye on hay moisture levels in every pound of feed they buy.

Here at Mytee Products, we have what you need to keep stored hay at the right moisture level. In addition to moisture testers, we also carry hay tarps and temporary hay storage structures.