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Measuring Harvester Losses in Western Australia

This project aims to establish baseline measures of harvester grain losses, support growers with machinery decisions to mitigate losses, share insights gained from the project and identify continued research needs.

A GRDC invested project, GGA will collaborate with grower groups and consultants in all phases of the project. Origins of the project stem from findings by agricultural consultancy Planfarm reporting an astounding $90 million worth of canola is estimated to be lost from the back of harvesters yearly in Western Australia.

Visual assessment of grain on the ground does not provide the accuracy needed for informed decisions about machine setup and setting changes. The importance of using drop trays to determine losses and calibrate loss sensors is critical and this has not been consistently implemented by growers under timeline pressure to get crops successfully harvested. 


Project Activities

  1. Sample and measure harvest losses from 75 sites across all WA grainbelt port zones covering major species (wheat, barley, lupin and canola) and minor crops (oats, lentil, field pea, faba bean and chickpea) and record harvest losses before and after adjustments from the front and rear of the harvester.

2. Analyse the data collected and establish indicative baseline harvest loss parameters for each crop across port zones. 

3. Train and equip sampling teams with drop pans to safely take measurements in a consistent manner across the State, use the BushelPlus app to record data and develop a decision support tool to assist growers and staff to adjust machinery settings.

4. Promote the outcomes of the study through crop updates, local grower group peer-to-peer learning forums and GRDC and Grower Group Alliance (GGA) communications channels.

5. Recommend future research needs.

Harvester loss study report

The full report of a 75 site study conducted during harvest 2021 can be read below.

Summary

  • Applying GIWA reported receivals and the price of grain at harvest, growers have an opportunity to rectify 2021 harvest losses of an estimated $300m+ of grain left in the paddock.
  • 200 samples collected by Grower Groups state-wide using BushelPlus drop trays
  • Front and machine losses measured for all WA grown crops
  • Loss benchmarks are less than 1% for cereals and 3% for canola but should be balanced with harvest capacity and machine running costs.
  • Average losses in wheat and barley as tested by the Grower Group Alliance in 2021 were around 2% and 4.6% respectively
  • Averaged measured losses in canola were measured at 3.2% but were measured as high as 10%
  • Pulse crop losses were very high, measuring  an average of more than 10% in lupins. Most of this was attributable to front losses.
  • Front losses in canola averaged of 1.7% for growers using draper fronts while adjustable table fronts averaged losses of 1%.
  • Growers using drop trays averaged 1.3% machine losses across all crops, those not using trays averaged 2.9% machine losses.


News

Follow the project partners on Twitter to keep up with harvester losses extenstion and the project trial results including Primary Sales, agricultural engineer and project consultant Ben White, Facey Group, Stirlings to Coast Farmers and LIEBE group.

Resources

Project Team

Findings from the 12-month Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) investment, led by Grower Group Alliance (GGA), have been compiled from a study conducted across 75 sites during harvest 2021.

GGA found the average losses in wheat and barley crops were around two and 4.6 per cent per hectare respectively. In canola, losses were measured at 3.2 per cent per hectare but were as high as 10 per cent at some sites.

Results indicate that, using receival figures from Grain Industry Western Australia (GIWA) and the price of grain at harvest, more than $300 million worth of grain was likely left in paddocks last season from front and other machine losses across all crops grown in WA.


GGA Program Broker Mark Holland said that historically, growers had relied on visual assessment of grain on the ground to measure losses, but this method did not provide the accuracy needed for informed decisions about machine setup and setting changes. “The importance of using drop trays to determine losses and calibrate loss sensors is critical,” Mr Holland said.


Sampling was conducted by officers at Facey Group, Liebe Group and Stirlings to Coast Farmers, with protocols produced by Glen Riethmuller (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development), Peter Broley (Primary Sales) and Ben White (Kondinin Group). Mr White also analysed the data.


Contact

Enquiries to Daniel Kidd at GGA


Collaborators


Skills

Posted on

08 Nov 2021