Simple tech for calculating canola losses no flash in pan

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Geoff VivianMidwest Times
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Grain expert Peter Newman said a simple technology could help farmers detect and avoid massive grain losses.
Camera IconGrain expert Peter Newman said a simple technology could help farmers detect and avoid massive grain losses. Credit: Planfarm

Mid West grain growers have started using a simple technology to measure how much grain falls on the ground as they harvest, Planfarm project consultant Peter Newman said.

“With canola, we had one guy who didn’t think his losses were too bad,” he said.

“I think he had about 275kg per hectare of losses.

“He adjusted the fan on his harvester to drop the wind down and he got it down to 70kg per hectare over 500ha of canola.”

Mr Newman said that farmer saved about $60,000 just by adjusting the fan.

The drop pan technique he has been trialling over the past two harvests involves placing a flat tray on the ground to catch the grain the harvester drops on the ground.

The sample it collects is used to calculate losses per hectare.

Mr Newman said he started working with grain farmers to measure their harvest losses about five years ago.

“They found that there is no point in looking on the ground to estimate how much canola you’ve lost out of the harvester, you have got to measure it with a tray,” he said. “Once they started measuring it with a tray, they came to find that they were losing many thousands of dollars worth of canola on the ground.”

Of the three commercially available drop pan systems, Mr Newman recommends Bushel Plus, which allows the harvester operator to release the tray using electromagnets. Mr Newman said he preferred that brand because of the quality of the trays and magnets, but mainly because it came with an easy-to-use separator system.

“It has a little bucket with a fan in the bottom of it and you just put all the material in, turn it on and it blows all the light stuff out and you’re left with your sample,” he said. “There’s a lot of money to be made by doing that but you need the system to be really easy.”

Mr Newman will be one of the presenters at the GRDC Update in Mullewa on Friday, February 22.

Visit www.grdc.com.au/update.

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