A return to chaff collection, for feed and to fight resistant weeds

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Before the age of combines, chaff was collected with a crop and left in a pile beside a threshing machine where it was then used for feed.

A company based at Wawanesa, Manitoba is helping livestock producers return to this practice of collecting and feeding chaff by building a high capacity Australian-designed chaff cart that is towed behind a combine.

As Eldon Obach of Feed Works explains in the video below, the chaff cart concept that was historically pitched on a smaller-scale in Western Canada has been reinvented in Australia as a tool for fighting herbicide resistant weeds.

“I’ve taken the Australian design and adapted it, building it in Canada, and adapted it more to generate chaff for livestock,” he says, speaking with RealAg at the 2023 edition of Ag Days in Brandon, Manitoba.

Obach and Feed Works built their first machine in 2019, and are in the processing of designing a larger version to be manufactured, working with a local colony, in 2023. He says they’re looking to boost the capacity from approximately 600 cubic feet to around 1,000 cubic feet.

The conveyor and back gate of the cart is driven by the combine’s hydraulic system. The unload function can be triggered by a sensor that tells the combine operator when the tank is full, but in most cases, operators will use GPS to drop the chaff heaps in a row to make it easier to collect or fence them in for grazing, explains Obach.

Combine type and design is a factor in how easy it is to hook up a chaff cart, he notes. There can be extra steps required if the combine is designed to run chaff through its straw chopper.

In addition to collecting feed, Obach expects there will be increased interest in the concept as a weed control tool as herbicide resistance becomes a greater issue. In Australia, the company Feed Works licensed its design from, Tecfarm, says their chaff carts capture 97 percent of weed seeds and volunteer seeds coming out of a combine.

Check out the interview below to hear more about the chaff cart from Eldon Obach with Feed Works:

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