Monthly Archives: August 2017


PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE – A recent study by Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI) has shown that two relatively minor changes in soybean harvest—reducing combine speed and investing in an air reel—can bring significant economic benefit to producers.

The study into optimizing combine efficiency when harvesting soybeans was carried out in 2016 near East Selkirk, MB and compared combine ground speeds of two, three, four and five miles per hour (mph). At two, three and four mph, losses were calculated at about 1.36 bushels per acre (bu/ac) but at five mph, the losses nearly doubled, to 2.18 bu/ac. Assuming a soybean price of $10/bushel, that means the difference between harvesting at four mph and five mph is $8.20 per acre.

Avery Simundsson, project leader with PAMI in Portage la Prairie, said that as new varieties make growing soybeans more appealing across the prairies, producers need this kind of information to ensure the highest possible returns.

“We were surprised at how obvious it was that speed could makes such a drastic difference,” she said. “The critical speed will vary slightly from our study but there will always be a point of exponential jump like we saw between four and five mph. Producers need to know where that point it for their particular circumstances.”

The PAMI study, which was funded by the Canada and Manitoba governments through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, also evaluated whether auger headers equipped with air reels are more efficient at picking up the crop, and they are. Simundsson said about 80 per cent of losses during harvest occur at the header but adding an air reel reduced losses by more than half when compared to losses recorded using just an auger header. Again assuming a $10/bu price for soybeans, that is a potential saving of about $12.50 per acre.

“It’s these kinds of relatively simple tweaks to harvest operations—slowing down and maybe investing in an air reel—that can help producers increase their returns by reducing the amount of beans, and profit, that’s left behind in the field.”

The complete PAMI Research Report can be downloaded here.


HUMBOLDT, SK—The Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI) is about half way through a three-year research project that will close the knowledge gap around corn forage production in Saskatchewan as an economically viable option for feeding cattle.

Interest in corn production for silage is growing in the province, said Dr. Joy Agnew, project manager with PAMI Agricultural Research Services, but agronomic recommendations are out of step with new hybrids developed for the province’s particular growing conditions. There is also a lack of information about the cost of corn production compared to other, more traditional silage crops like barley.

“Given the high input costs for corn and the slim margins in the beef industry, producers need the most accurate information possible in order to maximize their profitability.”

The research, which began in the spring of 2016 and is funded by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Canada-Saskatchewan Growing Forward 2 agreement, the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association and PAMI, involves seeding different brands of corn at different rates and with different nitrogen fertilizer rates at each site, Agnew explained.

The work is being done at five Agri-ARM (Applied Research Management) sites across the province and at PAMI’s test site at Lanigan, she said. Monsanto and Pioneer are supporting the research project by providing seed corn, and Vaderstad donated a planter.

After harvest in each of the three years, forage samples are analyzed for total digestible nitrogen and crude protein, key indicators of feed quality. Tons-per-acre yield data for each seed brand and each seeding and nitrogen rate is also being collected.

Although there is still data to come from this year and 2018, Agnew said she is encouraged by what she sees in the results from 2016.

“There appear to be some statistically significant trends developing so we’re anxious to see the results we get over the next two years so we can do a detailed economic analysis of production costs and the feed value of corn. All of the data will enable us to provide growers with really valuable information about cost-effective forage production.”

“The Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association is interested in finding new methods that will help ensure the health and nutrition of our cattle, as well as the economic sustainability of our producers,” said Marianne Possberg, Beef Production Specialist, Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association. “We appreciate the work conducted by PAMI researchers.”


PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE – Canola producers on the prairies now have assurance that straight cutting their crop is a viable option thanks to a detailed study of harvest methods undertaken by Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI).

“Swathing has always been the reliable harvest method for canola in Western Canada,” said Avery Simundsson, project leader with PAMI in Portage la Prairie, “but it’s good to understand what other options are available. The goal of our study was to provide information that will help people make economic decisions about which harvest method may work for them.”

Conducted in Manitoba during the 2016 growing season and funded by the Canada and Manitoba governments through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, the study evaluated four treatments: Reglone, Heat and glyphosate, natural ripening and swathing, which was the benchmark. Simundsson said the data collected showed the method of harvest does have a significant effect in some areas—productivity, harvest efficiency, fuel consumption, harvest speed, time to harvest and operator experience—but no significant difference was found in yield, engine speed, dockage, oil content, green seed or seed weight. She added there was an expectation that straight cutting would result in larger seeds and higher oil content but that did not turn out to be the case.

Simundsson stressed that straight cutting is most appropriate for shatter-resistant varieties of canola due to the reduced risk of shatter loss.

The study’s final report makes no recommendation for one harvest method over another “but if you have a critical harvest window due to factors like weather, manpower or acres left to harvest, I can imagine people using a combination of straight cutting and swathing. It’s very dependent on the producer and their particular operation but we want people to consider whatever method helps you get all of your canola off in the best possible condition.”

For the complete PAMI Research Report, click here.