Saturday, December 9, 2023

Tune your combine harvester for maximum yield

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FAR bringing experienced Aussie team to NZ to work on the best set-up, front to back.
A study of Western Australian arable farms showed that more than $300 million of grain and seed was likely left in paddocks in 2021 from machine losses.
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Pre-harvest workshops are set to help growers maximise the efficiency of their combine harvesters and get more grain in the bin. 

The workshops have evolved from a study of arable farms in Western Australia that showed more than $300 million of grain and seed was likely left in paddocks in 2021 from front and other machine losses. 

The study mirrors suggestions that New Zealand cropping farmers may also be leaving more grain and seed on the ground than they realise at harvest because of the set-up of their combine harvester. 

To avoid these potential yield and profit losses, the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) is running a series of South Island grower field events that will examine combine harvesters from the front to the back to ensure as much yield as possible goes into the silo this coming harvest. 

Event facilitator and FAR technology manager Chris Smith said the combine harvester set-up workshops will provide practical and independent information to growers, giving them the confidence to make changes on farm. 

The workshops, to run in November and early December in Mid and South Canterbury and Southland, will be hands-on, with some growers bringing their own combines and fronts as a basis for discussion on various set-ups.     

FAR is bringing in a team of Australian experts who have run several similar events across the Tasman to lead the South Island workshops.

“Primary Sales Australia have been running workshops in Australia for the Grains Research and Development Corporation [GRDC] with great success and they’re a good fit for FAR’s technology extension programme, which aims to help growers gain efficiencies from machinery and technology,” Smith said.

The team will include an agricultural diesel mechanic, independent harvester specialist and an agricultural engineer with a farming background.  

Smith said the team is independent so happy to talk about any brand or age of machine.  

Factors in front losses are front type and set-up and in back the things to look out for are losses, travel speed, rotor clearances, fan speed and sieve settings. 

Primary Sales Australia chief executive Peter Broley said the experts will start at the front of the combine and work their way to the back with a range of options for the way growers can adjust their machines to improve efficiency.  

“We start a conversation around what is going to improve the profitability of operators, how can we put more grain in their bin and save them time and money.” 

The losses picked up by the GRDC study of arable farms in Western Australia showed that the $300m of grain and seed likely left in paddocks in 2021 equates to $59 a hectare for barley, $68/ha for canola and $48/ha for pulses. 

Growers can not only reduce their harvester losses, but improved operator confidence in their combine set-up means they can increase their harvesting speed and productivity, Broley said.  

The team will return during harvest in January to gauge how well the adjustments made are performing in the field.   

The workshops are being held in Southland on November 28, Ashburton on November 30 and South Canterbury on December 1.

Famers must register to attend.

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