ADJUSTING harvester settings after measuring canola losses from the back of their harvesters could boost profits significantly.
A new GRDC fact sheet shows some canola growers in the 2018-19 harvest in WA were able to lift their profits by as much as $50,000, by minimising the canola falling to the ground.
Planfarm consultant Peter Newman led a GRDC project last harvest aimed at addressing the issue of canola losses from the rear of harvesters and results from his work are contained in this publication.
"An estimated $191 million of canola is lost in this way nationally every year - based on average losses of 150 kilograms per hectare or $75/ha across approximately 2.5mha of this high value crop grown across Australia every year," he said.
"This estimate is based on measurements made by Western Australian canola growers and is consistent with what has been found in western Canada where canola harvest losses have been measured extensively."
Mr Newman said WA growers involved in the project were unaware they were losing grain until the measured actual losses using commercially-available drop trays.
"They were then encouraged to adjust their harvester settings and share their findings and dollars saved using the Twitter handle @harvestloss," he said.
RELATED READING:Harvesters leaving canola behind
Mr Newman said one setting at a time should be changed and actual losses measured again after each adjustment to assess impact.
"Harvester settings that influence canola lost include the rotor speed, the gap between the rotor and the concave (separator), the cleaning fan speed, the openings of the upper sieve and the openings of the lower sieve," he said.
"It's advisable to measure actual canola losses once or twice a day during harvest, given changing conditions, and to involve the harvester drivers who can pride themselves on aiming to hit the 'sweet spot'."
Mr Newman said all harvesters were capable of achieving minimal losses with the right set up and settings, and the aim was not to produce the lowest losses per hectare, but the lowest cost of harvesting per tonne of grain.
"The ideal is to find the optimum point at which harvest efficiency is high and losses are low - the sweet spot," he said.
The project focused on canola losses from the rear of the harvester and did not consider front losses.
- Details: grdc.com.au/time-to-halve-canola-harvest-losses
- Start the day with all the big news in agriculture. Click here to sign up to receive our daily Stock Journal newsletter.