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Aussie's showcase harvest efficiency

Aussie's showcase harvest efficiency

Local crop farmers discovered new ways to improve their profits at a FAR workshop in Chertsey last week.

According to a visiting Australian experts, growers are potentially losing thousands of dollars through harvest losses as a result of less than optimum combine harvester set up.

“Machinery and front losses are things we can change, in contrast to losses from a weather event like rain or wind," said Primary Sales Australia chief executive Peter Broley.

He said it was important for growers to accurately and regularly measure grain and seed losses from their combine harvesters so adjustments can be made.

Broley was part of a team of experts from Australia at the workshop. He said farmers could potentially halve their losses as happened in Australia.

A study of arable farms in Western Australia showed that $320-million worth of grain and seed was likely left in paddocks in 2021. This is equivalent to a loss of $80,000 for each grower.

It found that growers using commercially available drop trays averaged 1.3% machine losses across all crops, compared with 2.9% for those not using trays.

A Mid Canterbury grower who had imported a drop tray system two years ago said that farmers could pay for the system in the first paddock, particularly with small seeds.

“You can make big gains quite quickly in the first year," he said.

After using the drop tray to fine-tune his combine he was able to increase his speed in wheat crops from 3.5 to 4 km/hour.

With combine running costs of $600 - $700/hour, this can bring savings in fuel, labour and depreciation as well as more timely harvesting of crops.

Factors affecting crop losses are front type and set up for front losses. For back losses, travel speed, rotor clearances, fan speed and sieve settings are important.

Australian harvester specialist Brett Asphar advised growers to adjust one thing at a time and so a short test run with the drop tray to gauge whether the change has made a positive difference.