The Agronomists, Ep 33: Nathan Gregg and Peter Johnson on residue management at the combine


Ontario farmers are well into wheat harvest now, though rain is holding things up, while the west eyes an approaching harvest few are looking forward to. As we shift to thinking about harvest, it also means it’s time to think about setting up for success for next year, and that starts at the combine.

Joining host Lyndsey Smith on this episode of The Agronomists is Nathan Gregg, previously of the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI) and now farming full time, and resident agronomist and wheat lover, Peter “Wheat Pete” Johnson.


CLIP 1: Wheat School: Giving Residue Management the Attention It Needs

  • How do you find that balance between blowing kernels out the back of the combine, but not lose the light crop? Trying to set the combine could be difficult this year, especially in Western Canada.
  • You have to figure out whats the best bang for your buck.
  • We don’t have the sheer mass that we usually have during harvest time. How the crop behaves even within the combine will be different. Be sure to really check those settings.
  • How do you spread dust? Well, you don’t. You have to be paying attention to what those rotor speeds are at. If it falls through the concaves, we’re overloading one system, and not utilizing the other.
  • We want to balance that load.
  • Setting a combine can be black magic on some of the best of days…
  • Humidity plays a huge par, too.
  • It’s hard to talk in generalities. You really have to manage case-to-case.
  • Driving faster isn’t always the solution.
  • Getting the spread width the same as the header width doesn’t happen often.
  • The rake test. Pete explains halfway through the video — it’s simply better not to put into words.

CLIP 2: Canola School: Managing residue for a successful stand

  • We’ll say it again. Slower speed = more even spread of residue.
  • Straw management should really be done in the fall if you want it to make a difference in Ontario and Manitoba. However, in the far west (where it’s drier) there are a few saving grace’s you can do in the spring.
  • We can see strips from residue years later. More than just one.
  • The problem with residue isn’t just nutrient management. It’s a soil temperature and soil moisture problem. This adds disease and insect problems as well.
  • It’s not just the soil beneath your feet, either.

CLIP 3: Geringhoff corn header integrates crop protection at harvest

  • Europe has some cool technology. Pete has horsepower on his Christmas list.
  • Everyone seems to have a different rule of thumb when it comes to corn residue management, especially. It depends what you are hoping to get out of your crop in the next year.
  • When you chop it into little pieces, there is more surface area for insects.
  • It will likely be a hot and dry harvest. How do we maintain uniform spread, and mitigate fire hazards? It can be opposing goals, and can cause difficulties. Combine settings become even more crucial.
  • It’s tempting to say that maybe you don’t want to spread the material as far, but the penalties from a residue perspective are not to be ignored.
  • Don’t forget the stripper header still gets a lot of chaff through the combine
  • Match your spread width of your residue to the combine head!

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The Agronomists (view all)Season 2 (2021) Episode 19

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