Managing residue a priority

Last week’s farm show near Saskatoon highlighted that the farm machinery world is still very motivated to deliver improved technology for farmers. Some of it is new and some from existing markets around the globe.

European farmers have more experience handling high-producing small grain and oilseed crops than we do here on the Prairies and Great Plains.

A combination of wetter years and improved production practices, with an assist from improved farm equipment designs, are pushing up yields and with them residual matter.

Dealing with what is left over, especially this year, will be a challenge. At the Ag In Motion farm show, several European tillage tools, along with some from right here at home, were shown in the demonstration areas, and crowds watching them run were large.

Producers are looking for ways to deal with the residue from this coming crop, while preparing for next year without sacrificing moisture or a lot of time.

Rite-Way, Degelman and Versatile from Western Canada had disc tools on hand at the show while facing off against products from Europe, such as Farmet, Amazone and Kongskilde, from the U.S. — Sunflower and Gates — and Australia’s K-Line. All displayed improvements over the cultivator or tandem disc, which most prairie producers think of when considering tillage.

I expect discs of many types will be making their way from dealers to farmers this fall as material from some record setting cereal crops flows out the back of the combines.

A conversation with Trevor Thiessen of Saskatoon’s Redekop, which manufactures the MAV choppers, reminded me that managing this crop’s residue starts at the back end of the combine.

Most producers have been optimizing their combines’ efficiencies with wider headers, but are their choppers keeping up?

In many cases, the combines aren’t spreading the residue evenly or even processing it well enough for rapid breakdown in the soil.

With the large number of newer machines in the fields it’s likely that many haven’t turned or sharpened their chopper knives or adjusted their spreaders to maximize coverage for the new headers.

Thiessen made several good suggestions on how to remedy issues and, to his credit, the last of which was to spend some money on new blade kits or a higher capacity rotor.

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