TechTour: Remote drop pan and separator help reduce harvest losses

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Driving combine as a custom harvester, Marcel Kringe and a co-worker figured there had to be an easier way to measure how much good seed was being thrown out the back — something more accurate than checking the ground and more safe than running right beside the combine to throw a pan between the wheels.

“We were running beside combines trying to check losses and trying to get them set properly, and it just came to the point where it was too much, it wasn’t safe and we came up with an idea for ourselves and for farmers to make the process easier and safe,” he explains in this TechTour video, filmed near Elm Creek, Manitoba.

After several years of building prototypes and working on the design, Kringe has developed a drop pan that attaches to the bottom of the combine magnetically and can be released remotely by the combine operator or someone else in the field standing safe distance away.

The drop pan tucks into a larger pan or shield designed to keep chaff and seeds out while it’s riding underneath the back axle or feeder house.

The separator (on left) is used to blow straw, chaff and dirt out of the drop pan sample.

After dropping the pan and having the rear of the combine pass over, the contents are dumped into a separator unit, which blows out the straw, chaff and dirt. From there, he places the seed on a scale, and determines how many bushels per acre are being threshed and left behind.

The system comes with two pan sizes suited for different crop conditions and stubble heights — the narrower pan works better in tall straight cut canola stubble. It can be transferred between machines, running on rechargeable batteries and requiring no wiring or modifications to the combine.

In addition to reducing harvest losses, Kringe says he’s also had success using the pan to tweak combine fan speed to reduce how many fusarium-infected wheat kernels enter the hopper.

“We’ve had growers that went from a #3 to a #2 wheat, plus less losses, so the savings were quite high,” he says.

There’s also a weed management benefit with volunteer canola, notes Kringe, who works as an agronomist in southern Manitoba.

“Let’s say you’re losing a bushel of canola per acre. That’s 50 lbs per acre or ten times the seeding rate that you’re throwing back on the ground, and those are the volunteers for the next few years,” he says. “That’s one of the questions I get a lot as an agronomist — how to get rid of volunteer canola in soybeans or corn.”

Based on interest, Kringe has started working with a manufacturer in southwest Manitoba and is offering the combine calibration tool for sale at BushelPlus.ca.

As part of the 2017 TechTour series, Real Agriculture and Dow Agrosciences are focusing on on-farm innovations. Watch earlier videos here, and if you have an idea, let us know in the comments below or send us a tweet @RealAgriculture!

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