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Improving harvester set-up ‘money in the bank’: grower

GRDC will offer a series of free harvester forum workshops across WA designed to help growers to reduce grain losses and improve profitability.
Photo: GRDC

Western Australian grain grower Noel Fowler knows first-hand understanding, effectively setting-up and calibrating harvesting equipment can equate to ‘money in the bank’.

The young grower, who is part of his family’s Rapanui Pastoral Company at Williams, attended a GRDC harvester forum at Cuballing last season.

He says the practical, interactive forum had been invaluable and given him confidence to make changes on-farm.

“These forums provide an opportunity to talk with other growers, to understand their challenges, as well as those being experienced by the machine operators,” Mr Fowler says.

“Improving your understanding can give you confidence in your decision-making and improve profit margins.

“For example, we have seen and heard now that implementing harvest weed seed control methods can give you a return in three to five years, and after that it’s money in the bank.”

GRDC Grower Relations Manager – West, Jo Wheeler, says growers were keenly aware that fine-tuning harvest machinery set-up could be a critical part of maximising on-farm profitability at the end of the growing season.

“Growers want more information about best practice harvester set up because they know it can make a difference financially,” Ms Wheeler says.

“Research supports this with income losses from canola left on the ground during harvest estimated at about $75 per hectare.”

To assist growers to reduce these losses and streamline operations at harvest, GRDC is running a series of half-day forums across WA this season.

The half-day forums led by industry experts will provide information and discussion around preventable harvester losses, improvements in efficiency and output, calibrating harvester technology, reducing the risk of harvester fires and methods of harvest weed seed control (HWSC).

These practical, interactive forums will also demonstrate how harvest losses can be accurately measured and identify where losses are occurring.

Ms Wheeler says while not all grain losses could be prevented, losses associated with machinery settings and configuration could be minimised, and these forums could give growers and operators the confidence to make changes to maximise their returns.

“Measuring harvest losses every day or multiple times a day can seem tedious to operators, but the payoff from adjusting the machine to minimise the loss is worth the hassle. You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” she says.

“We will also have experts from different harvest support services speaking at the forums and offering practical demonstrations because it is important to acknowledge that there are differences in machinery set up depending on the environment.”

WA grower Tim Barndon agrees the 2020 harvester forum he attended gave him the confidence to make changes on-farm.

“To actually come to someone’s farm and to have the headers out and be able to see first-hand the implementation of some of these ideas and to see what’s working and what isn’t, it great,” Mr Barndon says.

The 2021 GRDC harvester forum program will cover the following topics:

  • Understanding the impact of harvest loss, how to measure it and how to change your harvester to reduce losses
  • Latest HWSC information, including how to set up for effective HWSC using mill systems (iHSD, Seed Terminator, Redekop Seed Control Unit) chaff decks and chaff lining
  • Reducing the risk of harvester fires
  • Improving harvester capacity and efficiency
  • Managing harvest operations, productivity and economics.

The forums will feature presentations and discussion by industry specialists including Dr Michael Walsh (Sydney University); Adrian Roles (JMAJ Precision); Kassie van der Westhuizen (John Deere, Goldacres); Vernon Cogswell (Harvest Support Services); Ben White (Kondinin Group); Warrick Finlay (Primary Sales); Rod Gribble (Australian Custom Harvesters) and Brett Asphar (Seed Terminator).

Facey Group will deliver the free GRDC Harvester Forums across the western region at:

More information: to register, visit GRDC's events page.

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