Keep to the right

It’s a pain in the neck to always look over your left shoulder at harvest time, which is why Australian farmers have been buying right-hand unload grain carts.

Some of those right-hand grain carts are built by Elmer’s Welding in Altona, Man.

Mike Friesen, an agricultural engineer and owner of Elmer’s who has been building right-hand unload carts for the Australian market for a number of years, says it’s time to introduce the idea to Canadian prairie farmers.

Australian farmers cite ergonomics, safety and reduced operator fatigue as the main reasons for the switch to right-hand unload. Surveys there say farmers prefer right-side unload over a left-side unload. As well, there’s no cost increase because right-hand unload uses the same components — just arranged differently.

“All your hydraulic controls, your powershift and everything in the cab is on the right side, so that’s where your attention is focused,” said Friesen.

“Guys say it’s easier on their neck to look over their right shoulder. They say it’s easier to keep their foot on the clutch when their body is twisted to the right. So, we build right-hand unload carts for Australia because that’s what the market demands. But I think it’s time we show the advantages to Canadian farmers.”

North American grain carts have historically been built with left-side unload augers because it was assumed this arrangement reduced the risk of the cart auger contacting the combine auger. However, Elmer’s has found that more operators have begun folding in their auger after each unload, thus eliminating that left-side rationale.

Elmer’s made right hand carts available for testing last year with a small number of select North American customers. The feedback was positive. Operators say looking out the right side of the tractor is more natural when adjusting hydraulic and throttle controls. It’s also more comfortable working the tractor’s pedals during unload.

With the growing awareness of right-hand augers in North America, Elmer’s will offer it as an option on new carts this year. Details on potential conversion kits for existing carts will be available at a later time.

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