Combine calibration made easy

Two companies offer remote controlled drop pans that allow growers to safely collect samples of material blown out the back of combines.

Both products are powered by electromagnets that disengage at the push of a button. The pans then fall from their mounted position under the combine and collect a representative sample of how much grain is being blown over.

ScherGain’s drop pan is constructed out of heavy plastic and mounts directly under a combine with the electromagnets.

Bushel Plus’s offering is built out of aluminum and comes in two pieces. The base magnetically clings to the bottom of a combine and the pan clings inside the base with the electromagnets.

Both systems are battery powered and mount onto the bottom of any combine in seconds.

Operators disengage the chopper and chaff spreader on their combine before dropping the pans to collect a sample.

However, the two systems differ in how users assess their losses once the sample is collected.

With SherGain, the sample is cleaned and then dumped into a grain gauge and the reading is compared to a reference chart to find the losses per acre.

“We actually have done all the math. You just screen it out and dump it into what we call our grain gauge. From there you just look at the charts. You don’t need an app, you don’t need anything,” said Trevor Scherman of ScherGain.

“If there is 33 millimetres on the grain gauge and you have a 30 foot header in canola and you screen your sample and dump it into the grain gauge, 30 mm on the grain gauge equals one bushel (per acre loss). Sixty mm on the grain gauge equals two bu.”

The Bushel Plus has a grain cleaner that now comes with a variable-speed fan that blows the chaff and straw out of the sample.

“It’s portable and you can recharge the batteries as well,” said Marcel Kringe of Innovative Combine Calibration.

“You turn it on and the chaff and the straw is blown out and the kernels stay on the bottom. You can clean your sample within 15 or 20 seconds right in the field.”

Users then dump the cleaned grain on the scale and use the reference charts to quickly assess their losses.

The Bushel Plus comes with two sizes of aluminum drop pans that allow operators to adjust to different stubble conditions. For instance, hemp stubble is very tall so the thin pan can be used because it will have more success in falling between the tall stalks.

Scherman said customers often find a three to 3.5 bu. loss in their canola when they first start using their pan.

“Even if you get that down to a bushel, that’s two bu. savings right now, ballpark $20 per acre,” he said.

Scherman said using a yield monitor without calibrating it is like using a speedometer without any numbers on it.

“But once you calibrate your speedometer and you know where 50 m.p.h. is, you will know where 25 is, or where 100 is,” he said.

“It’s the same as your combine loss monitor. Once you calibrate it for one bu. loss, and once you get into tougher conditions, you will realize you’re throwing way over one (bu. per acre).”

Kringe said he helped one of his customers reduce the amount of fusarium in a 2016 spring wheat crop near Brandon with the Bushel Plus.

The combine was throwing more than 3.5 bu. per acre, and with the help of the drop pan it was adjusted to throw over half a bushel per acre.

“We also had a lot of fusarium problems that year,” he said.

“So we dropped the pan quite a few more times to figure out the sweet spot to adjust the wind and the sieve settings to blow the fusarium out the back.”

Kringe said the fusarium moved on the plants fairly early that year, so the kernels were relatively small, enabling the work crew to tweak the combine to throw the smaller diseased kernels over while retaining the quality wheat.

“Instead of a No. 3 feed wheat, we could market the 1,600 acres of wheat as a No. 2,” he said.

“So a three bu. less loss on 1,600 acres, and going from a No. 3 feed wheat to a No. 2. That was a savings of about 65 to 70 grand saved for this farmer within a couple of days.”

The SherGain drop pan sells for $1,800. For more information, visit www.schergain.ca.

The Bushel Plus retails for $2,000 to $2,500. For more information, visit www.bushelplus.ca/.

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