Rigid, varifeed and draper headers compared
A prairie farm implement research centre is studying which styles of cutting headers work best for straight combining canola.
Nathan Gregg, who leads the research for PAMI, said researchers compared the traditional swath and belt pick-up system for straight combining canola with a rigid header, a varifeed header and a draper header.
The three-year study is entering its second year.
“It’s a little too early to declare a winner, but what I can say is that all of the headers performed, and as far as the capability to do that job, they all sufficed and are capable of doing it,” Gregg said.
“I think the varifeed with the extendible cutter bar, it did show some potential that it may be able to retain a bit more of those losses.”
The varifeed header has an extendable knife that moves as much as 24 inches further ahead from its normal position, directly out and under the reel, to capture losses caused by the reel.
The study was conducted at two 50-acre sites near Swift Current, Sask., and Indian Head, Sask. It used a standard hybrid canola variety and a shatter resistant variety.
Catch pans that captured losses resulting from the straight combining process were placed in zones across the width of the header, such as on the edge of the header and under the feeder house.
Researchers also examined environmental shatter loss by randomly placing catch pans in the field during the swath treatment part of the study. The pans were left in the field until it was harvested to monitor losses from shattering caused by wind.
Environment shatter loss was fairly low, from .1 to up to one bushel per acre at the Swift Current site.
A windstorm occurred at Indian Head after the control swath belt pick-up treatment was performed. The crop was also much drier than at Swift Current.
At the Indian Head site, “all the header treatments with the standard hybrid variety (at Indian Head) ended up harvesting three to four bushels per acre less due to the wind-caused shattering,” Gregg said.
The performance of the two canola varieties has been similar, he added.
“However, when we did have conditions where we did see shattering and loss, the shatter resistant variety withheld its seed better than the standard hybrid variety,” Gregg said.
Seed was dry at around six percent when the Swift Current canola was straight combined, but the stock material was green and wet. Shatter losses because of straight cutting were low, but the researchers had problems getting the crop residue through the combine.
“We had long straw coming through the combine basically intact, which makes it hard for the combine systems to handle,” he said.
He said some farms are going to be better off to stay with a swath-based system because it fits that farm’s harvest window and capacity.
“Other farms are really going to gear up and really integrate this into their system and have some canola that’s ready to go and done early and some they are holding off on until later,” he said.