Simplified drop pan reduces combine losses in field

Seed for the ScherGain magnetic drop pan concept can be traced back to a father and son argument out in a field in western Saskatchewan.

Pat Sherman recalls that he and son Trevor were having one heck of an argument about which way to go with combine adjustments. The only thing they could agree on was that they really didn’t know for sure, without accurate data, on how many kernels actually hit the dirt.

“That’s the argument that got us going on figuring out a better drop pan system,” says Pat Sherman, adding that the giant horsepower of today’s combines makes it almost impossible for the operator to “feel” what his combine is doing.

“In modern combines, you need to have accurate calibration on your loss monitors. If you don’t have precise calibration, then it’s like a car speedometer with no numbers. You can’t quantify how fast you’re driving.

“It’s the same with fine tuning your combine. If you can quantify your losses, then you can start to manage your combine decisions. Calibrating your combine may be the most money you can make per hour farming. The biggest reason guys aren’t stopping to calibrate is that it’s too complicated and takes too much time.”

Sherman likes to use this example. If a combine is doing 18 acres per hour and you’re throwing out two bushels per acre of $10 Canola, that’s a cash loss of $20 per acre. That pencils out to a cash loss of $360 per hour. Then consider the loss if you’re running multiple combines.

“I always thought we were losing too much grain. Trevor didn’t agree. So that sort of forced me to develop this magnetic pan so I could prove to him it was a serious problem,” says Pat Sherman. The ScherGain Solution System uses one pan and no mounting brackets. The pan is held to the combine by the remote control electromagnets.

“The grain pans that had been around for years don’t give you a quick answer about how much you’re loosing. It took too long to calculate. So, once we had the magnetic pan part of the system working, then I developed the formulas to factor in header size for 13 different crops, with header width from 30 feet up to 45 feet.

“Our system collects the whole sample off the back of the combine, not just a portion. So that pan represents your entire header width. I’ve done all the math, so you look up 30-foot header for example, and the chart will tell you how many bushels per acre are being lost. You don’t need a calculator or anything like that in the field.”

Sherman says the electromagnetic pan mounts to any combine in under five seconds. From the time the operator remotely drops the pan and gets out of the cab until the time he has grain loss numbers, less than five minutes have passed. He says an operator can spend an hour doing adjustments with the pan and expect to go from losses of three or four bushels down to one bushel or a half-bushel in virtually any crop.

Trevor adds to the conversation, saying that service reps and sales reps were of little help in trying to coax maximum efficiency out of the combine. “They all focus on how many acres per hour the combine can do. They shy away from talking grain loss.”

The system includes the pan, electromagnetic system, grain gauge and chart. It sells for $1,800. 300 ScherGain Solution Systems have been sold to date.

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