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.

Producers are encouraged to make important calculation to maximize returns

HUMBOLDT – Saskatchewan crop producers are being encouraged to make an important calculation to ensure they are maximizing their returns this harvest season.

Joel McDonald, program manager of Agricultural Development Services at Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI) in Humboldt, said knowing the rate of combine loss—the amount of crop that ends up on the ground after a pass—is key to making well thought out economic decisions about harvest.

“When you ask how much loss is acceptable, how many bushels per acre or what percentage of yield, there is no wrong amount,” said McDonald. “The error comes if you don’t know how much you’re losing or haven’t considered it.”

The problem is that checking for loss takes time and effort. “The best way to check for loss is to disengage the chopper and spreader to drop the residue in a windrow, and then drop or throw a loss pan under the combine while harvesting at a steady rate. Then, the operator or a helper needs to separate the dust, chaff and straw from the grain in the loss pan.”

The final step is to do a calculation to determine the bushels per acre, said McDonald. Multiplying the grain loss rate by total acres and commodity price could result in significant numbers. “It’s possible to lose over five bushels an acre so I recommend that you check for loss as you get into each crop each year. I’ve done these calculations and often the answer is a simple adjustment or slowing down.”

It is well documented that higher speeds result in higher loss, said McDonald, but going faster also means covering more acres per hour and fewer days to completion. Only by knowing the loss rate can a producer calculate, for example, whether it makes financial sense to slow down, recover more crop and invest that saving in an additional combine. “That’s where the economic decision comes in.”

McDonald said critical decisions about fleet operations are sometimes made by feel or tradition and not based on data. “A producer can make $20,000 from a good marketing decision but he could also make $20,000 from a good combining decision.”

Experts Share Practical Advice For Managing Cow-Calf Efficiencies At 19th Annual Field Day

HUMBOLDT, SK – Western Beef Development Centre (WBDC) is hosting Chip Hines, retired rancher, author and public speaker from Colorado at the 19th Annual Summer Field Day June 20 at Termuende Ranch, east of Lanigan, SK.

During Hines’ session, entitled “Managing for Efficiency”, he will share what he has learned during his 50-plus year career about the importance of working with nature when making marketing, genetic and grazing decisions in order to be efficient and profitable as a cow-calf producer.

“At Western Beef, we strive to research practices and technologies that are relevant and adoptable by producers in order for them to be competitive and profitable in the cow-calf sector.  Chip’s views on the importance of managing for efficiency, knowing costs and continuous learning are very much in-line with Western Beef’s, so it a pleasure to have him come to the Field Day and impart his wisdom,” says Kathy Larson, WBDC Economist.

The Field Day will also feature afternoon field tours and presentations from researchers and veterinarians from the University of Saskatchewan, Prairie Agriculture Machinery Institute, Western Beef Development Centre, Merck, Delta Genomics, and Watrous Animal Hospital. The day will conclude with a steak supper ($15 per plate), which is organized by a local Lighthorse 4-H Club. The complete agenda is enclosed.

“Each year we look forward to sharing current research findings and relevant industry information with producers. This year’s field tour will feature 15 minute talks from nine different presenters on topics ranging from parasites to parentage,” says Dr. Bart Lardner, Senior Research Scientist, WDBC.

In the past, WBDC Field Day events have attracted about 150 to 220 producers from across Western Canada who are interested in learning how they can improve their cow-calf management practices.

WBDC is transitioning to the Livestock Forage Centre of Excellence at the University of Saskatchewan, effective March 31, 2018. The WBDC has been operated for the past 12 years by Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI).

For more information about the Field Day and directions to the ranch, visit

The Western Beef Development Centre, a division of PAMI, is a leader in collaborative applied research for the beef and forage industries, identifying and communicating opportunities for profitable innovation. Its mission is to collaboratively link lab and land for the competitiveness and sustainability of the cow-calf industry in Saskatchewan.

MEDIA CONTACT: Kathy Larson | Email:  |  Mobile: 306-930-9354

SaskCanola and PAMI Celebrate 25 Years of Working Together

SaskCanola and PAMI Celebrate 25 Years of Working Together


In conjunction with the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers Association, we are conducting research on pulses. We are looking for producers in Central Saskatchewan who have grown soybeans previously & plan to use granular in-furrow inoculant. We need small samples and a bit of your time!

What’s in it for you?
-> Compensation
-> Assistance with calibration during seeding
-> A copy of all research results

Help us improve soybean yields in Saskatchewan through supporting this important research.

Contact Amie at or 403.804.5456 (texts welcome!)


PAMI Board of Governors Chair inducted to the Saskatchewan Agriculture Hall of Fame

Congratulations to Tim Oleksyn, Chair of the PAMI Board of Directors, on his induction to the Saskatchewan Agriculture Hall of Fame this past weekend. We celebrate you and your lifetime of success.


“Leave it alone” is best for summer canola storage in bins

Not turning or aerating canola in bins during the summer months may be the best approach in reducing the risk of spoilage if canola was cool and dry when it went in the bin, according to research conducted by a team of agricultural scientists from Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI).

“Over the course of two separate studies conducted in 2014 and 2016, we found little to no risk of spoilage when canola was just left alone provided it was cool and dry at the start of spring,” says Dr. Joy Agnew, Research Scientist – Agriculture & Bio-Products, PAMI.

Producers are storing increasingly more canola in bins during the summer months due in part to year-round delivery contracts, growth in market and production, and increased bin capacity. Determining the best management practices to maintain proper temperature and moisture in the bins during the prairies’ hottest months spurred new questions from producers, which initiated this research. This most recent project was funded by Government of Saskatchewan – Ministry of Agriculture’s Agriculture Development Fund under the federal-provincial Growing Forward 2 program, Canola Council of Canada, Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission, Alberta Canola Producers Commission, and Manitoba Canola Growers.

Agnew and her team compared three common approaches to managing bin temperature and moisture: leaving it alone, no handling; aerating, forcing air through the bin; and turning, removing the canola from the bin and putting it back to redistribute cold or warm spots. They then monitored the temperature during June, July and August in three 3,500 bushel bins at one location using unique sensors installed inside the bin. They also intermittently monitored five additional bins at different locations using temperature sensing probes to collect data from a wider range of bin sizes and initial grain conditions.

“While this research does suggest less canola handling is better, it is still very important producers monitor the temperatures and moisture in their bins, particularly in the spring and summer when temperature differences are most likely to occur,” she says. “There are many variables that can affect the temperature and moisture in the bins, and producers must monitor the grain conditions on a regular basis.”

For a report summary and the complete research report, click here.

PAMI Open House & Tour

Your FUTURE is right here!

Monday, March 20, 6:30 to 8:30 PM

@Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute, Humboldt, SK

PAMI will hold a special student event to educate youth about the exciting work they do right in the heart of Saskatchewan – from research and development work in the mining industry to military and defence projects to agricultural machinery testing and improvement, bio-research, and crop research. The global market is on our doorstep and no problem is too big or too difficult! Consider a stimulating, cutting-edge career with the bright and innovative minds at PAMI!

Free pizza! Free ride from Saskatoon!

Click here for the poster!

Bus leaving Saskatoon at 5:30 PM
Pizza supper @6:30
Tours of facility and work stations
Bus leaves for Saskatoon @8:30

Please register by March 15
via email: — “March 20 Event” in subject line
or phone:     1.800.567.7264
or text:         306.370.2475