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Gaining from loss

Gaining from loss

Speaking at the recent Precision Agriculture Conference & Ag Technology Showcase, Bushel Plus showed how its technologies can help farmers lessen their harvest loss and gain crop yield.

By Andrew Joseph,

Hundreds of millions of dollars are being left on the fields after a harvest—and that’s just in Saskatchewan.

In the world of precision agriculture, there is a lot of technology that focuses on maximizing a crop’s potential growth with every aspect of the growing cycle scrutinized. While seeding control has been a positive part of precision ag with technology to monitor costs and yield, the same technology is lacking when it comes time to harvest.

Chris “Dutch” van Meijl, account manager for Bushel Plus recently spoke at the 2021 virtual Precision Agriculture Conference & Ag Technology Showcase held November 16-18, discussing his company’s plan to help farmer’s accurately measure harvest loss and how to minimize it with its Bushel Plus app.

Harvest loss rears its ugly head when a lot of the crop plant remains after the passing of a harvester. Meijl asked: “You spend a lot of time growing it, so why wouldn’t you want to harvest it?

He explained just how bad crop loss can be, noting that many farms experience 1-2 bushels/acre, and some as much as 5-15 bu/acre, though it is more commonly found to be in the 2-5 bu/acre range—sadly an amount considered to be an acceptable loss.

In dollars and cents, Meijl said that there is approximately $231 million in crops left in the field per year in his example of Saskatchewan.

He cited:

  • ~33 million acres of grain harvested per year;
  • That’s about 1-billion bushels per year of crop—nice;
  • If a combine does, on average, about 2,500 acres, it means that in Saskatchewan there are about 13,200 combine vehicles;
  • Unadjusted, each combine harvest about 76,000 bushels.

Excellent stuff—but, suggested Meijl, if farmers could decrease yield loss by just one bushel per acre, that would save 33-million bushels. At the high average rate of $7/bushel, we arrive at $231 million in losses now saved.  

How many acres do you have?

Meijl has heard it before: Why do we need an app when we already are able to accurately measure crop loss?

They are correct—except the crop loss being measured isn’t accurate. Farmers said they don’t require a pan for cereals or pulses, but when a pan was used to measure crop loss, it was actually about five percent of the bushels/acre.

Others said they can see the kernels upon the ground – and it doesn’t look that bad. However, a pan measurement actually showed a lot of small or broken kernels passing through, which is actually a loss.

Still others claim their new combine harvester self-adjusts to the terrain and the crop—but fail to understand that much of the combine’s sensor technology has remained stagnant from what it was 30+ years ago.

Meijl said that Bushel Plus’ app doesn’t care what type of vehicle you drive or even how old it is—all that matters is it has to accurately monitor the amount of crop is going out the back to better show farmers what their true loses are.

The company provides a special Bushel Plus pan that is a remote-controlled magnetically mounted system. It works on multiple machines, lacks any wiring to connect, utilizes a covered design, and comes with two drop pan options: wide and narrow.

There’s also a special air separator that makes the system as efficient as it is, offering: fast sample cleaning; battery powered, and; variable speed precision—allowing the heavier grain to settle at the bottom for realistic measurement.

The true star of the show, however, is the app, that provides farmers with quick calculations of grain loss. But it does more than that.

As for a return on investment (ROI)—Bushel Plus has found that farmers can easily achieve a five percent gain on yield, and that full ROI is achievable in less than 200 acres of use.

It’s not just a drop pan—it’s a complete system.

Watch the full video below to learn how you can calculate more exacting numbers of crop loss and determine how to avoid it to better save resources and increase your yield.

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