Harvest Loss and integrated HWSC reduces weeds and puts more grain in the bin

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Victorian farmer Luen Credlin is using a chaff deck, Bushel Plus harvest loss system, and most recently, three-finger knife guards to help increase efficiency on the farm. He farms in the northern Wimmera of Victoria, grows canola, wheat, barley and lentils, among other crops.
Mr Credlin, who operates a 2017 New Holland CR9.90 combine with 40-foot MacDon FD75 header, said he had only used a chaff deck for one season, but had already noticed a marked reduction in weed seed distribution.

“The early signs are that distributing the weed seeds onto the three-metre wheel tracks is creating an increase in yield, although it is still a bit early to give an exact figure,” he said.
“However, when used in combination with the Bushel Plus harvest loss system and most recently the Primary Sales’ Allrounder three-finger knife guards, I am confident of some good results.”
Mr Credlin said the Bushel Plus system removed the guesswork by providing a quick and easy way to measure harvest losses: with adjustments to the harvester then being made to improve efficiency.

“The Bushel Plus is a great invention. It (separator) quickly clears away the chaff to leave the grain,” he said.

Bushel Plus Harvest Loss Measurement Integrated with HWSC

“I simply weigh the grains on the pocket scales provided, enter the result into the phone app, and then calculate how much crop we are losing and where.”
“What Luen is doing in checking his losses and changing his header settings to maximise his productivity reinforces the work done by Peter Newman as part of his work with GRDC on harvest loss,” said Peter Broley from Primary Sales. “More than 20% of growers using drop-pans to measure and then recalibrate their headers were putting an extra $20,000 back in their bin. “Measure it and you can manage it.

Harvester setup Workshop at Luen Credlin’s farm 2019

Mr Credlin is a fourth-generation farming family he operated the business with his wife and father in-law.
“We have recently installed the Primary Sales Allrounder three-finger knife guards with the replaceable wear strips, and I am really looking forward to seeing the difference they will make on extending knife life,” he said.

“I am also a firm believer in buying Australian manufactured machinery, which is why we purchased an Australian-built seeder and chaser bin.
“Hence I am using Australian-based Primary Sales to source equipment, including the chaff deck and Allrounder 3-finger Knife guard,” he added.
Peter Broley said “Our All Rounder Adapt-a-Gap three-finger knife is suitable for light to heavier crops with the 34mm gap being able to be an be adapted using the snap-on cereal finger extensions. This improves Luen’s efficiency when harvesting his pulse crops or where the harvesting in lighter crop conditions and therefore reducing his losses”. He said we are proud to be the only Australian manufacturer of knife guards and produce 2, 3 and 4-finger knife guard kits to suit all the popular front from John Deere, Case, New Holland, MacDon, Claas, Honeybee, Agco and Midwest.

To read more on GroundCover article “Harvest gains through online networking”.

4 years and a combine upgrade proves Chaff Decks low cost HWSC answer

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Giles family has been farming in North Central Victoria for five generations.  Along with his father Stuart, Tim Giles runs their 2000-hectare operation Nerrina Farms, near Charlton in the Victorian Southern Mallee; where they grow a diverse rotation of wheat, barley, canola, lupins, faba beans, field peas and oaten hay.

Tim said they used a 2019 John Deere S780 combine for the 2019 harvest, in tandem with an EMAR chaff deck, as part of a Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) system to help reduce herbicide resistant weeds.

Prior to purchasing the John Deere S780 last year they had run a S670 combine for three years with the EMAR chaff deck system, switching the EMAR across to his new combine without hassle or cost.
“While no system can be 100 percent effective, we have already noticed a significant reduction in weed infestation since we started using the EMAR chaff deck,” Tim said.

“It is a great system as it places the chaff portion of the harvest residue, including harvested weed seeds, onto the wheel tracks (tramlines) behind the combine.

“This means the weeds are fighting to grow in a more competitive and hostile environment due to the higher concentration of plants and harder compacted soil in that area.
“We are currently still seeding our tramlines, and on the seeder, we have an extra hose to each of the tynes on the tramlines.

“This effectively doubles the rate of seed sown in the tramlines for even more competition where we know the ryegrass is going to be.”

Tim added that using the chaff deck system also helped to significantly reduce dust when summer spraying.

“This is beneficial because in normal conditions the dust being lifted from sprayer wheels can have a negative impact on herbicide efficacy,” he said.

“The current EMAR chaff deck has not significantly increased running costs and the initial purchase price was a small cost to pay in the battle against resistant weeds.”

He said that on the farm, they had been moving towards a greater take-up of CTF for the past five years or so.

“With all machine widths now matching and some machines on three-meter wheel centres, it’s a system that does take time to move across to.”

Tim said the aim of CTF in general was to improve soils by avoiding random heavy machinery traffic, and the chaff deck system fitted in well to add another layer to the CTF practices.

The Emar chaff deck is simply another tool in their ‘integrated weed management’ program to help reduce weed seed numbers and slow the further development of herbicide resistance, Tim added.

New farming methods help sort the wheat from the chaff

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A recent Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) funded national survey found 43 per cent of Australian grain growers are already using some form of Harvest Weed Seed Control (HWSC) – with 83 per cent planning to implement HWSC in the next five years.   Victorian farmer Mick Pole – from Lowan Ridge near Walpeup in northwestern Victoria (about 100km south of Mildura) – is one such grower using EMAR Chaff Decks.

EMAR Chaff Deck

Mr Pole is currently seeing the results of using the EMAR chaff deck to help ‘drive down’ some of the most damaging cropping weeds. Observations in the first year have now become clearer after some recent autumn rain with germinating weed seeds – allowing Mr Pole to capture some of the seeds and lay them on the three-metre Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) lines.  Seeds include annual ryegrass (Lolium rigidum), wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum) and brome grass (Bromus diandrus and B. rigidus).

Reduce Dust for spraying

Mr Pole said using the chaff deck had also helped with dust reduction at summer spraying – with the residue laid by the chaff deck system. He said the dust suppression had definitely exceeded expectations, and weed control over the summer was now much closer to 100 per cent since the introduction of the chaff decks. “Windrow burning has been used in the past and we are hoping the chaff deck will replace it long term,” Mr Pole said.

“This is because with windrow burning, we found we were losing too much of the residue needed for pulse growing and erosion control.”
Mr Pole said he was hoping the use of the chaff deck would be beneficial on more sandy soils with the implementation of early stage CTF to reduce erosion.  While currently in the post-spraying phase of the farming cycle, Mr Pole said using the chaff deck had allowed him to better manage the paddocks by altering the timing of the spraying where necessary, and reducing the ‘self-sown’ pressures outside the wheel tracks.

“After only about six months of use, we are only now beginning to realise the full benefits as each cycle is completed,” Mr Pole said. “Although only in the early stages of CTF and the use of the chaff deck, I am really looking forward to watching and working with the result, and I can see some positive outcomes eventuating. “Of course, as with all new ventures there will be challenges, but the current feeling with the chaff deck is by preparing to take on these challenges, I firmly believe the positives will outweigh the negatives.” Mr Pole said.

Photo: By Miranda Kenny GRDC