A seed treatment is a vital and effective product, so long as it stays on the seeds where it can do its work. When it is released into the surrounding environment, however, it can cause significant political and environmental concern.
Published in Seed Treatment
Two hay tool innovations from John Deere Ottumwa Works have been honored by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) with the AE50 Award for 2018.

The awards are for the BalerAssist feature on the large square balers and the Plus2 Bale Accumulator for large round balers, both introduced in late 2017. The AE50 Award highlights the year’s 50 most innovative designs in product engineering in the food and agriculture industry, as chosen by a panel of international engineering experts.

The BalerAssist option on the L331 and L341 Series Large Square Balers was recognized for allowing the operator to more quickly and easily clear plugs between the baler pickup and rotor, without leaving the tractor cab.

“This significantly reduces downtime and increases bale-making productivity, especially in tough crop conditions,” says Travis Roe, senior marketing representative for large square balers. “In addition, this feature makes it easier for operators to access service points inside the baler and improve overall operational control and maintenance.”

Also receiving an award are the A520R and A420R Plus2 Round Bale Accumulators, which give customers the ability to carry up to two round bales behind the baler while making a third bale in the chamber. The Plus2 Accumulators are fully integrated into the design of the balers and can be used with 6-foot (1.82 m) diameter John Deere 7, 8, 9 and 0 Series Round Balers.

“These accumulators allow operators to strategically place the bales where they can be removed from the field most efficiently,” says Nick Weinrich, product marketing manager for pull-type hay tools. “This dramatically reduces the damage to crop regrowth from excessive field travel, as well as fuel and labor associated with collecting individual bales scattered across the field.”

ASABE is an international scientific and educational organization dedicated to the advancement of engineering applicable to agricultural, food and biological systems. The awards will be presented at the ASABE Agricultural Equipment Technology Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, in February. Information on all award winners will be included in the January/February 2018 ASABE’s Resource magazine and on the ASABE website. Further information on the Society can be obtained by visiting
Published in Combines/Harvesters
John Deere 5R Series Tractors have received the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers’ (ASABE) AE50 Award for 2018. The AE50 Award recognizes innovative designs in product engineering as selected by a panel of international engineering experts.

Introduced in 2017, 5R Series Tractors leverage existing technologies normally found in large tractors and feature four models ranging from 90- to 125-engine horsepower.

“John Deere engineers designed tractor features to provide customers with unrivaled maneuverability, an easy-to-use transmission, increased visibility, loader integration and operator comfort,” said Nick Weinrich, product marketing manager for Deere.

A 7.4-foot (2.25 m) wheelbase, paired with a 60-degree steering angle, provides a tight turning radius of 12.1 feet (3.68 m). “For customers working in confined areas such as barns, this is a big improvement because they can more easily maneuver the tractor while increasing their productivity,” said Weinrich.

Customers can choose from two fully electronic transmission options, CommandQuad Manual and Command8. Weinrich said Deere made it easy for operators to toggle from B range through D range without stopping, thanks to a multi-range selection feature. Base equipment on 5R Tractors also includes AutoClutch, a feature leveraged from larger Deere row-crop tractors that completely eliminates the need for clutching. Operators can automatically re-engage the clutch by depressing the brake pedal.

Deere engineers improved upward and forward visibility from the tractor to help make 5R Series Tractors an even better fit for loader applications. Engineers also integrated an interactive display into the tractor’s right hand cornerpost. Operators can use the display to customize a variety of tractor functions to fit their preferences.

Join Top Crop Manager Feb. 27 and 28 in Saskatoon, Sask., for the 2018 Herbicide Resistance Summit - Register now!
Published in Tractors
Linamar Corp. recently announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 100 per cent of the outstanding equity interests of MacDon and its Group of Companies for an aggregate purchase price of C$1.2 Million, less the assumption of small transaction related expenses, and subject to certain customary adjustments.

Headquartered in Winnipeg, Man., MacDon is a global innovative market leader in the design and manufacturing of specialized agriculture harvesting equipment such as drapers and self-propelled windrowers.

MacDon is an industry-leading manufacturer with a strong customer following and advanced agriculture equipment technologies.

It has developed an indstury-leading reputation for quality, reliability and passion for harvesting technology over its 67 year history as a family owned company. MacDon’s mission is to manufacture reliable machines that make harvesting easier and more productive for its customers in over 40 countries worldwide.

MacDon’s products excel in the toughest real-world conditions, and its pioneering, industry-leading innovations like the FlexDraper® have propelled the company’s strong reputation for providing customers with quality, innovative equipment. Further, MacDon has developed strong relationships with a global dealer network of approximately 1,400 leading dealers and distributors, a major competitive advantage in the industry.

Linamar sees a compelling cultural fit with MacDon given its strong family legacy and looks forward to building on that foundation, which has been a key driver of MacDon’s success. This platform acquisition positions Linamar as a leading global agricultural equipment manufacturer.

MacDon will be combined with Linamar’s existing agriculture harvesting business in Hungary to position both businesses for significant growth. Linamar’s existing harvesting business is highly complementary to MacDon product plan allowing Linamar to offer a full lineup of grain and hay harvesting equipment. Linamar plans to expand its agricultural platform by increasing penetration in both new and underserviced markets globally.

Linamar expects to realize modest synergies from the transaction and create opportunities to utilize existing distribution channels for agricultural products. The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to earnings per share and free cash flow per share even before accounting for these synergies. As it expands, MacDon will benefit from Linamar’s established manufacturing footprint in Asia and Europe along with employing best practices from both Linamar and MacDon.

Linamar has a long track record of executing strategic, accretive acquisitions followed by seamless integration. Its previous acquisitions of Skyjack, Montupet and Seissenschmidt are compelling case studies of Linamar building its global manufacturing platform with broader product lines, additional capabilities in new markets and incremental geographic presence, while continuing to deliver outstanding financial performance and returns to its shareholders.

“The acquisition of MacDon provides a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move our agriculture business into a market leading position while providing meaningful diversification to the end markets we serve. We believe the long-term growth fundamentals for the agriculture industry are very strong given the growing and developing global population, noting the market is in the early stages of cyclical recovery.” said Linda Hasenfratz, Linamar’s CEO, “MacDon is a strong, well-managed company and an innovative market leader in both customer penetration and technology evolution; it will be the centerpiece of our agriculture business, which includes our existing European corn header business, highly complementary to MacDon products. We get diversification, innovation, growth and a solid deal, we couldn’t be happier."

For more information, visit
Published in Corporate News
John Deere has introduced its latest advanced guidance and machine data sharing technology with the addition of three new AutoTrac applications and a new In-Field Data Sharing application for its Generation 4 Displays.

AutoTrac Turn Automation, AutoTrac Implement Guidance, AutoTrac Vision for Tractors, and In-Field Data Sharing applications are being sold as bundled activations for the John Deere 4600 CommandCenter and as bundled subscriptions for 4640 Universal Displays.

“These new applications are machine-specific bundled activations with the 4600 CommandCenter and provide late-model John Deere machine owners with outstanding technology value,” said John Misher, precision agriculture product marketing manager with John Deere. For owners of machines equipped with a 4640 Display, the applications are offered as bundled one- or five-year subscriptions.

AutoTrac Turn Automation makes end turns smooth, consistent and comfortable for operators during tillage, planting, seeding or other pre-emerge applications when using straight-track guidance modes. Mishler said the new application for tractors provides automation across the field rather than just between headlands. It allows operators to focus on machine and job performance while reducing operator fatigue.

When AutoTrac Turn Automation is activated, the machine functions previously required at the end of the field, when operating drawn implements, no longer require user input. “For example, making end turns, raising and lowering the implement, PTO control, 3-point hitch functions and speed can be established in sequences from one setup page to become automated,” Mishler explained.

AutoTrac Implement Guidance (passive) enables the tractor to move off the intended path or guidance line in order to achieve expected accuracy of the implement. Mishler said implement drift can diminish accuracy of the implement while the tractor is traveling on the guidance line. “AutoTrac Implement Guidance helps operators improve pass-to-pass accuracy by placing the implement consistently on the guidance line, helping to reduce the impact of implement drift,” he explained.

AutoTrac Implement Guidance is ideal for first-pass tillage, planting, seeding, strip till or other applications with drawn implements when using straight- or curve-tracking modes and when operating on hillsides. Differential-correction signals can be shared between the receiver on the tractor and the implement. Mishler said the application is easy to install, calibrate and operate.

AutoTrac Vision Guidance was previously released for John Deere 30-Series and newer sprayers. Now, Deere is expanding the application to include 7X30 large-frame, 8X30 and 8X30T, 7R and 8R/8RT tractors. AutoTrac Vision can be utilized in post-season crop applications to detect the crop row and provide input to the machine’s AutoTrac system to keep the tractor’s wheels or tracks between the crop rows. This level of precision can be beneficial when side-dressing fertilizer, post-emerge spraying and cultivating.

“This application is supported when the tractor is working in corn, soybeans and cotton at least 6 inches tall with up to a 90 per cent canopy. This level of advanced guidance minimizes crop damage, reduces operator fatigue and maximizes tractor productivity in fields with 20- to 40-inch row spacing,” Mishler added.

In-Field Data Sharing makes it easier for producers to co-ordinate multiple machines working in the same field. Operators can use the application to share coverage, application, yield and moisture maps along with straight tracks and circle tracks with up to six other machines.

The application helps machines to work together more efficiently, reducing skips, overlap, fuel and input costs for producers. During planting, seeding, harvesting, spraying and nutrient application, In-Field Data Sharing helps producers maximize each pass through the field.

“It’s easy to share and check maps with In-Field Data Sharing. Operators can monitor machines’ as-applied maps to see if they’re properly calibrated and performing in a similar manner, thus maximizing machine performance,” Mishler said. “In-Field Data Sharing also lets users transfer guidance lines between machines without manually moving a USB stick from one machine to another. This is a real time-saver wheral machines are working in the same field. By using the application, operators can more efficiently manage nurse trucks, tenders and grain carts while decreasing operating costs.”

Each of the four new applications is compatible with the John Deere 4640 Universal Display and with Gen 4 4600 CommandCenter displays. Activations and subscriptions are immediately available for ordering. Delivery will take place beginning in February 2018.

Producers should visit their local John Deere dealer for additional information about hardware requirements and tractor platform, display and differential-correction signal compatibility. 
Published in Precision Ag
Versatility, durability and precision control – these terms accurately describe the new 2630 Series Disks and Vertical Tillage tools available from John Deere. Building on the solid performance of the 2620 Series tillage tools, John Deere brings greater control to light, medium and heavy-duty tillage operations.

The new 2630 Series implement lineup includes four distinct models: 2630 Disk, 2633 Disk, 2635 Disk and 2633 Vertical Tillage implement, each providing different levels of soil penetration, residue mixing and seedbed preparation.

According to Jarred Karnei, John Deere product marketing manager, the new 2630 Series tillage tools allow customers to match the right tool to their field and soil conditions while improving tillage performance with the latest in on-the-go precision control, thanks to TruSet Technology.

“TruSet gives operators fingertip control in making tillage depth and pressure adjustments while allowing them to accurately map and store depth, speed and down pressure information,” explains Karnei. “This gives them even more data when analyzing field and crop information that can be used for making better agronomic decisions.”

TruSet is included in base equipment on all 2630 Series implements, making depth and pressure adjustments quick and easy from the cab. Instead of up to 10 minutes needed for manual adjustments, operators can make precise changes to down pressure and depth in less than six seconds, with 0.1-inch depth adjustment and 0-900 psi down pressure on rolling baskets.

In addition, customers can select from either mechanical stabilizer wheels or TruSet hydraulic stabilizer wheels as an option to maintain more consistent depth control on rolling ground.

Other important features of the 2630 Series tillage tools include new extended-life bearings that provide greater durability and reliability with the ability to customize bearing maintenance based on soil and tillage conditions.

For heavy, wet or rocky soils, a knife-edge hydraulic rolling basket option is now available, in addition to traditional round-bar and flat-bar baskets.

The new 2630 Series Disks and Vertical Tillage implements come with radial tires on the mainframes (base equipment) and are optional on wing frames and stabilizers. Radial tires offer longer wear life while minimizing compaction due to their wider footprint and lower inflation pressures.

The 2630 Series models include the 2630 Disk, available in different working widths from 20 feet 9 inches to 49 feet 3 inches for lighter soils and seedbed preparation; the versatile 2633 Disk for either primary or secondary tillage up to 6 inches deep in 10 different widths and tillage configurations; and the primary tillage workhorse 2635 Disk that cuts 8 inches deep for maximum tillage and crop residue incorporation, available in five working widths and configurations.

“With field operating speeds up to 7 mph, the new 2630 Series tillage tools are designed to easily handle a wide variety of soil and residue conditions with unprecedented control, while providing years of reliable performance,” says Karnei.

For more information on the new 2630 Series Disks and Vertical Tillage tools, as well as the full line of John Deere tillage implements featuring TruSet Technology, contact your local John Deere dealer or visit
Published in Corporate News
The New Holland T6.175 Dynamic Command tractor was crowned Machine of the Year 2018 in the Mid Class Tractor category at the Agritechnica trade show in Hanover, Germany.

The machine received the coveted award for its technical innovation and the benefits it brings to customers, with selection criteria focusing on innovative features, performance, productivity, cost of operation, ease of use and operator comfort.

“This award is testament to New Holland’s long-standing leadership of the mixed farming and dairy segment. It is a well-deserved recognition of the hard work and dedication of all those involved in the development of the T6.175 Dynamic Command tractor, who worked tirelessly to produce a tractor that meets the specific requests of our customers,” said Carlo Lambro, President of New Holland Agriculture Brand.

In August 2017, New Holland announced it is expanding its acclaimed T6 Series offering with the new T6 Dynamic Command option. These new T6.145, T6.155, T6.165 and T6.175 are the only tractors in the segment featuring a 24x24 semi powershift transmission on the market. They are versatile tractors that will be an asset to the fleets of dairy, livestock, and hay and forage operations.

For more information, visit:
Published in Tractors
With large dollars and major tax implications hanging in the balance, farmers need to take the time to carefully weigh financing options for any and every acquisition of farm equipment. Whether you should lease or buy your next major farm purchase cannot be answered with a one-size-fits-all set of rules, says Rick Battistoni, chartered professional accountant, and a partner with MNP, a national accounting, tax and business consulting firm. Rather, he says, one’s financing decisions depend on your farm’s specific needs, priorities and financial reality.
Published in Business Management
Trelleborg announces the launch of its latest innovation – the PneuTrac, a solution that combines the advantages both of radial argicultural tires and tracks.

Vineyards and orchards form two critical parts of agricultural production and both face unique challenges, notably in root protection and terrain. Vineyards often incorporate steep terrain and along with orchards, typically have narrow row operations with small spaces between vines or trees.

Tracked applications can often be too wide to pass between rows with a comfortable margin for error.

“PneuTrac delivers unbeatable performance on both steep slopes and muddy terrain, reducing downtime to zero in demanding conditions. PneuTrac combines the advantages of a radial agricultural tire in terms of fuel efficiency, comfort and handling, with the footprint and traction benefits of a track.." said Lorenzo Ciferri, VP marketing and communications at Trelleborg Wheel Systems.

PneuTrac contains the best-in-class features of Trelleborg agricultural tires along with a new sidewall utilizing CupWheel Technology by Galileo Wheel Ltd. The innovative “Omega” design of the sidewall helps the carcass to sustain load, simultaneously providing flexibility and an extra-wide footprint, resulting in very low soil compaction.

This new design allows the tread to work at 100 per cent of its potential efficiency. The Progressive Traction technology on the tread itself enhances traction whilst the inter-lug terraces improve the self-cleaning capability of the tire. The wide lug bases combined with a robust shoulder feature, increase lateral stability, especially on slopes.

“When designing the PneuTrac we focused on the specialist requirements of key producers. For example, the roots of vines are incredibly precious and susceptible to damage. As with conventional agriculture, the top soil needs to be protected and machine slippage could easily be a disaster for both the soil and roots," Ciferri said. “We firmly believe that PneuTrac is a game changing innovation and that it again demonstrates our commitment to sustainable farming, helping to protect some of our most valuable agricultural assets.”

PneuTrac will be on display at Agritechnica 2017, November 12 to 18 in Hannover, Germany. 
Published in Corporate News
Deere & Company has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Blue River Technology, which is based in Sunnyvale, California and is a leader in applying machine learning to agriculture.

"We welcome the opportunity to work with a Blue River Technology team that is highly skilled and intensely dedicated to rapidly advancing the implementation of machine learning in agriculture," said John May, President, Agricultural Solutions, and Chief Information Officer at Deere. "As a leader in precision agriculture, John Deere recognizes the importance of technology to our customers. Machine learning is an important capability for Deere's future."

As an innovation leader, Blue River Technology has successfully applied machine learning to agricultural spraying equipment and Deere is confident that similar technology can be used in the future on a wider range of products, May said.

Blue River has designed and integrated computer vision and machine learning technology that will enable growers to reduce the use of herbicides by spraying only where weeds are present, optimizing the use of inputs in farming – a key objective of precision agriculture.

"Blue River is advancing precision agriculture by moving farm management decisions from the field level to the plant level," said Jorge Heraud, co-founder and CEO of Blue River Technology. "We are using computer vision, robotics, and machine learning to help smart machines detect, identify, and make management decisions about every single plant in the field."

Already in 2017, Blue River Technology has been listed among Inc. Magazine's 25 Most Disruptive Companies, Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies, CB Insights 100 Most Promising Artificial Intelligence Companies in the World, and the Top 50 Agricultural Innovations by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.

Deere said it will invest $305 million to fully acquire Blue River Technology. Deere plans to have the 60-person firm remain in Sunnyvale with an objective to continue its rapid growth and innovation with the same entrepreneurial spirit that has led to its success. The transaction is expected to close in September.

May said the investment in Blue River Technology is similar to Deere's acquisition of NavCom Technology in 1999 that established Deere as a leader in the use of GPS technology for agriculture and accelerated machine connectivity and optimization.
Published in Corporate News

According to the latest Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting (CAIR) information, agriculture-related fatalities are declining.

From 1990 to 2001, an average of 116 people died due to an agriculture-related incident. From 2002 to 2012, the average number of agriculture-related fatalities declined to 85 per year. Also encouraging is the fatality rates of all age groups saw decreases in this period.

“The decrease in the fatality rates is encouraging,” says Marcel Hacault, the Executive Director of the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA). “It means that we are moving in the right direction.”

Between 2003 to 2012, farm machinery continued to be involved in most agriculture-related fatalities with runovers (18 per cent), rollovers (18 per cent) and being pinned or struck by a machine component (9 per cent) accounting for the top three ways people were fatality injured.

Fatality rates due to rollovers and from being pinned/struck by a machinery component also declined. Rollover fatality rates decreased an average of 3.6 per cent annually and fatality rates from being pinned/struck by a machinery component decreased an average of 7.8 per cent annually.

Published in Corporate News

Mar. 16, 2016 - According to the Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting (CAIR) program, 13 per cent of farm-related fatalities across Canada are traffic-related, and most involved tractors.

During the busy spring season, farmers often travel long distances between fields, and this requires transporting equipment on public roads throughout rural Alberta. Farm equipment is oversized and slow compared to other vehicles using the roads and when certain procedures are not met, this can lead to collisions and other incidents.

"Maintenance is a contributing factor to the safety of transporting farm equipment," says Kenda Lubeck, farm safety coordinator, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF). "Poor maintenance of equipment such as brakes or tires can lead to loss of control of the vehicle."

Check all tires for air pressure, cuts, bumps and tread wear. Always lock brake pedals together for highway travel as sudden braking at high speeds on only one wheel could put the tractor into a dangerous skid. Equip heavy wagons with their own independent brakes.

The number one cause of farm-related fatalities in Canada is machinery roll overs. To minimize the risk of severe injury or death to the operator, all tractors need roll-over protective structures (ROPS)," says Lubeck. "In addition, operators should always wear a seatbelt as ROPS are ineffective in a roll over without this restraining device."

To avoid traffic collisions between motorists and farm equipment, farmers should ensure their equipment is clearly visible and follows all regulated requirements for lighting and signage. This will ensure approaching traffic has time to react to a slow-moving vehicle. Use reflective tape and reflectors in the event that large equipment is required to travel in dim lighting conditions. In Canada, reflective material should be red and orange strips. You can purchase tape in kits or by the foot at local farm or hardware stores.

Dust-covered signage and lights make farm machinery less visible to motorists and dust-covered machinery causes poor visibility for the operator, who may not see oncoming traffic. Be sure to clean farm equipment prior to transportation to minimize the risk of collision due to poor visibility.

"It's important to note that regulated requirements for lighting and signage on public roadways include the use of a slow-moving vehicle (SMV) sign," explains Lubeck. "The SMV sign must be properly mounted, clean and not faded. It must be positioned on the rear of the tractor or towed implement and clearly visible. SMV signs must only be used on equipment travelling less than 40 km/hr."

For more information on the safe transportation of farm equipment on public roads, see AF's Make it Safe, Make it Visible or go to for more information on farm safety.


Published in Maintenance

Mar. 31, 2016 - Much of the tracks-versus-wheels debate on farms has focused on compaction and the ability to drive in wet conditions, but what about differences in fuel consumption?

Testing done in southern Manitoba in 2015 confirmed long-standing research showing tracks require less energy to move in field conditions, dispelling a lingering misconception that implements on tracks require more horsepower to pull than wheeled units.

Research conducted near Altona — the home of track-maker Elmer's Manufacturing — found fuel savings of 11 to 15 percent when pulling a grain cart on tracks instead of wheels.

"We used a grain cart and compared wheels to tracks at the same weights. We tested on fresh tilled ground, tilled and then dried for a few days, untilled canola ground, and concrete for a reference." explains Mike Friesen, general manager and lead engineer at Elmer's.

While wheels pulled easier than tracks on concrete, there was less resistance pulling tracks in all three field scenarios.

That's because tracks "float" or stay higher on top of the soil, reducing what engineers describe as "rolling resistance." Since tires generally create deeper ruts, they have a greater rolling resistance than tracks on soft soil, as explained by researchers AJ Koolen and H Kuipers in Agricultural Soil Mechanics back in 1983.

"In plain English, the tracks don't have to continuously try to get out of the rut they are digging like the wheel does," explains Friesen.

Hartney, Manitoba farmer Tim Morden's experience pulling large capacity Bourgault cart on Elmer's TransferTracks supports the findings.

"When we had duals on the back of the cart, dirt would build up in front of the wheels and slow it down, making it hard to pull," he says. "This didn't happen with tracks."

Morden explains the biggest difference he's noticed with switching to tracks is the reduced compaction and rutting, especially in wet conditions.

"The number one fact is it doesn't really leave a rut at any time, unless it's really wet, but it's significantly less than tires," he says. "We have much more confidence on the field with the track."

The study also compared energy required to pull Elmer's large tracks versus Elmer's smaller TransferTracks, which concluded that, while both tracks pulled easier than wheels, the TransferTracks required less horsepower at weights below 35,000 lbs per wheel making it the ideal candidate for use with an air-seeder cart, small grain cart or a rolling water/fertilizer tank.

The reduced energy requirement not only results in improved fuel efficiency, but it could also allow a grower to optimize their existing horsepower in other ways, such as driving faster or pulling a wider drill with the same tractor during seeding.


Published in Tractors

Harvest is the time of year when farmers reap the rewards from a season of hard work, worry and risk. They treasure the perfect harvests when the weather co-operated and yields surpassed expectations. The worst years serve as useful reminders of the challenges of farming.

Crop yield is the measurement of crop production on a given area of land. It refers to the average of the field and is usually stated in bushels per acre or tonne/ton per acre. Average yield is the benchmark to compare with neighbours, assess management decisions and report for crop insurance. Average yield tells you only part of the story, since it is product of the area of maximum yields and the area of minimum yields within the field.

Prior to combine yield monitors, farmers relied on subjective assessments to determine the best management decisions for their geography. People tend to rely on subjective information from magazine articles, comments from neighbours and their judgment on what seemed to work last year. Field assessments and summer crop tours are also useful to compare and assess crop input options. Each of these is a source of information, but farmers really need accurate and measurable results to make informed decisions.

Years ago, I was launching a canola variety in a large strip-trial comparison with 10 other varieties. A top yielding variety was assigned as the “check variety” for the site. This check variety was replicated with a strip on each side of the field. My variety was located near the end of the site and it placed second when it lost the comparison by 4 bu/ac. While reviewing the raw data, I noticed a 6 bu/ac yield difference between the two strips of the check variety. From that moment on, I realized the impact that field variability can have on future management decisions.

Precision agriculture utilizes data and measurement techniques to enhance traditional decision-making. The data required depends on the questions you want answered. Yield data can consist of general information, such as historic average yields, or the average yield for a specific field. GPS coordinates can also define areas within a field where the combine collected yield data every second. Each type of data is valuable and can be useful to answer different questions.

Combine yield monitors
Combine yield monitors have been around for years, but many farms don’t take the steps to turn that data into valuable information. Logging yield data is easier than many people think. The combine operators must enter some variation of farm/field/crop type into the controller and indicate where to save the data. If farm/field/crop type is not entered, you may watch the controller display yields, but yield data is not saved. Many combine brands require a USB or compact flash card inserted into the yield monitor to store the data during combining. John Deere yield monitors have internal memory to store the data once the controller is set up.

Combine calibration
Many operators don’t calibrate the combine yield monitor during harvest. So even though they watch yields during 200 hours of harvesting, they know the data is not accurate. Inaccurate yield data can still be useful because it can be corrected from a known number. For example, the truck weights or bin measurement might confirm the combine yield monitor was +4 bu/ac high (on average). Newer yield monitors can reformat a prior field’s yield data to the corrected values from a calibration. Post-harvest data analysis can also correct inaccurate yield values. The final option is to just keep the inaccurate yield data knowing it is +4 bu/ac overstated. Either way, you can still make decisions with inaccurate data just like farmers have been making decisions for generations with no data at all. But a quick combine calibration can accurately capture the year’s final results.

I encourage farmers to install a GPS receiver on every combine to provide a GPS signal to the yield monitor, enabling advanced yield data analysis. Combines usually collect yield data every one to three seconds depending on the combine model. The GPS coordinates aid the merging of yield data from multiple combines and even multiple combine brands in a field. Auto-steer or GPS guidance is an option on combines, but a basic GPS receiver can provide a GPS signal to the yield monitor at minimal expense.

Do-it-yourself yield software such as APEX, AFS, SMS, FarmWorks and Yield Editor is available to process your yield data into yield maps. If you didn’t process your own yield maps by Christmas, consider hiring an experienced technician to do it for you. Yield data is like a Christmas present; you really should open it.

Yield maps
During harvest 2015, a new record wheat yield of 16.5 t/ha (245 bu/ac) was achieved in England. The media article didn’t say what the minimum yield of the field was, but a maximum yield of 342 bu/ac was mentioned. What future decisions can you make on this information? World records are interesting but without more information and yield maps to review, the information is not that useful.

Yield maps identify where your opportunities are and where improvements can be made. The farmer, the equipment operators and anyone involved with the farm can review each field after harvest to identify learnings prior to the next crop year. Was there a crop input comparison or unintended crop input comparison in the field? Perhaps there was no difference in yield from the additional crop inputs, or you identify a +5 bu/ac difference that was not noticed during crop scouting. Reviewing past years’ yield maps and/or satellite imagery can also identify chronic yield differences within a field that Grandpa could probably tell you a story about. From my experience, reviewing combine yield maps will always identify something interesting.



Published in Precision Ag

Faced with lower commodity prices, farmers are looking for any edge to improve productivity and crop performance. As the 2015 growing season gets under way, experts say one of the most effective ways to improve yield is to minimize soil compaction by using tires that can operate at a lower air pressure.

Farming equipment, including tractors, sprayers and combines, has grown larger and heavier in recent years, allowing farmers to cover more acres per day but also making soil compaction a much greater challenge.

"Lower-pressure tires produce a larger tire footprint, which distributes the weight of the machine over the largest area possible to reduce compaction," said James Crouch, farm segment marketing manager for Michelin Agriculture tires. "In addition, a larger tire footprint provides excellent traction in the field, which can improve fuel economy by reducing slippage."

Academic research has demonstrated the benefits of lower-pressure tires that provide higher flexion than standard radial agriculture tires, thus reducing soil compaction. "Topsoil compaction is caused by high contact pressure. To reduce contact pressure, a load needs to be spread out over a larger area. This can be done by reducing inflation pressure," states a Penn State University Extension report.1

Harper Adams University in the United Kingdom recently completed a three-year study involving Michelin's Ultraflex IF (Increased Flexion) and VF (Very High Flexion) tires that demonstrated a yield increase of up to four per cent compared to standard radial agriculture tires.2

Additional recommendations from Crouch and other experts to help farmers minimize soil compaction include:

• Check and maintain proper tire pressure as temperature changes throughout the growing season, particularly in the spring if new tires or equipment were purchased the previous fall or winter. Every increase of nine to 10 degrees in ambient air temperature can raise tire pressure by one psi, or lower it by that same amount as temperature decreases.

• Reduce total axle load by operating the lightest possible equipment for each application that still efficiently transfers horsepower to the ground with minimal slippage. Ensure total machine weight conforms to manufacturer specifications.

• Minimize the number of trips over the field and reduce the area of the field on which equipment is operated. Limit heavy machinery to the same lanes through the field each season. Only the controlled traffic lanes become compacted, sparing soil between the lanes.

• Use duals and large-diameter tires, since the larger surface area can help reduce tire pressure against the soil.

• When additional machine weight is needed, use cast iron ballast instead of filling tires with liquid ballast. Liquid ballast changes the flexion of the tires, resulting in a smaller footprint.

"Proper tire management and other practices can help reduce soil compaction, even though it can't be eliminated totally," Crouch said. "Protecting the soil is one of the best investments farmers can make to improve their crop performance and their bottom lines."


Published in Tractors

Sept. 26, 2014 - Golden fields of wheat and the sight of trucks full of grain are sure signs that the harvest season is upon us once again. Every harvest season there are collisions between farm equipment and passenger vehicles resulting in expensive repairs, injuries and sadly even deaths. However by taking a small amount of time to discuss how to safely transport agricultural equipment, farmers and their equipment operators can minimize the risk of a collision.

Glen Blahey is a Health and Safety Specialist with CASA. "There are three common types of collisions involving farm equipment and a typical road vehicle: Rear-end, passing and left-turn collisions."

Farm equipment moves much slower than regular highway vehicles. A typical tractor travels less than 40 kilometers per hour. Farm machinery is long and wide. Motorists can underestimate the length, width and speed of farm machinery, often with disastrous results. Rear-end collisions occur when motorists come up on farm equipment too quickly. Passing collisions often occur because motorists attempt to pass without having a clear view of oncoming traffic. And left-turn collisions happen because motorists often think the equipment operator is pulling over to allow the vehicle to pass but the operator is actually making a wide left turn.

So what can farmers do to prevent these types of collisions? The first step is having a conversation with
all equipment operators and truck drivers about how to safely and efficiently move farm machinery on public roadways.

In March, the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) and the Canadian Federation of Agriculture launched "Let's Talk About It!", a Canadian Agricultural Safety Week campaign focused on encouraging farmers to talk about farm safety.

As a part of "Let's Talk About It!", CASA developed the Toolbox Talks, a series of brief, informal talks that help farmers discuss with their workers and their families about safely conducting farm tasks, including the operation of farm equipment on public roadways. "By having a conversation with equipment operators and truck drivers at the beginning of the harvest season, farmers can lay out their expectations and procedures on how to safely move farm equipment," Blahey says. "CASA's toolbox talks are an excellent way for farmers to effectively communicate these expectations in clear and comprehensive way."

Some quick and easy tips to remain safe this harvest season are:

Be Visible. If motorists know that slow moving farm machinery is on the road with them and how that machinery is likely to move, the chance for a collision is greatly reduced. All slow moving farm equipment must be equipped with A Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) Emblem. This emblem is a triangular, bright orange sign with a red border. It must be placed at the centre or to the left of centre of all slow moving farm vehicles and equipment. Make sure that the SMV emblem is clean and visible. Lighting is also important to make sure that your farming equipment is visible to motorists. Tractors and other self-propelled equipment must have at least two headlamps visible from the front, two red tail lamps visible from the rear and two flashing amber warning lamps visible from both the front and the rear of the machine. Proper turning signals should be available and used at all times so that motorists can anticipate what the farm machinery is going to do. Some provinces have other lighting requirements, check with your provincial department of transportation for these regulations.

Be Cautious. When operating farm machinery on a public road, be sure to drive as far to the right as possible to give motorists room to pass, but stay on the road. Travelling on the shoulder presents its own hazards – it may be soft or have obscured hazards like culvert openings or depressions. Equipment operators should never allow extra riders on farm machinery. If something goes wrong, the extra rider is the most likely person to die. And always remember to buckle up your seat belt, even a low speed equipment crash can result in a significant injury.

Be Alert. Only properly trained and licensed drivers should ever operate farm machinery. While it goes without saying that no one should ever operate farm machinery under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it's also true that anyone who is overly tired should also avoid driving.

By following these guidelines, farm workers will minimize the chance of a collision or other incident while travelling on public roadways in a farming vehicle.

For more information on the Toolbox Talks, visit



Published in Maintenance

Aug. 25 2014 - The Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) has developed a new online tool that gives farmers an opportunity to express their concerns about possible hazards with farm equipment. The Speak Up For Safer Equipment tool is intended to provide a way for farmers, manufacturers and standards organizations to talk about safety concerns with agricultural equipment manufactured within the past five years.

"We decided to develop this online tool after routinely receiving calls from producers who were frustrated that their concerns weren't being heard," says Glen Blahey, agricultural health and safety specialist for CASA.

The online form handles safety concerns where farm equipment is being used for primary agricultural production. It is not intended to handle cases where legal proceedings are taking place, where there are labour relations concerns or issues related to financial transactions.

Once a farmer has filled out the online form, CASA will review the safety concern and either will forward the issue directly to the appropriate manufacturer or, if the concern is a universal issue, forward it to the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). As well as providing information to manufacturers and the CSA, the Speak Up for Safer Equipment tool will give CASA data on potential safety-related trends affecting farmers.

"The tool isn't designed to hurt the reputation of any manufacturer or individual," says Blahey. "Speak Up for Safer Equipment will foster better communication and education between farmers, manufacturers and standards organization and will ultimately reduce the potential for injuries."

The Speak Up for Safer Equipment online tool will be available in August on CASA's website at Concerns can also be reported by phone at 877-452-2272.

Published in Corporate News

Three prototype HSD systems being tested. Photo by Michael Walsh.

In Australia, the development of multiple herbicide resistance in some of the most serious annual weeds has been the catalyst for the development of new agronomic practices. Researchers and industry have developed new non-chemical weed control techniques focused on weed seed capture and destruction during commercial grain crop harvest.

“Herbicide resistance in problematic weeds is extensive across the Australian crop production zone,” explains Dr. Michael Walsh, research associate professor at the University of Western Australia, in Crawley, Western Australia. “It is particularly severe across the western Australian wheat production region (10 million hectares) where 98 per cent of annual ryegrass populations are resistant to at least one mode of action herbicide.” The majority of populations are now multi-resistant (i.e., have multiple resistance mechanisms), with the resistance problem consistently severe across all cropping systems and crop types.

The biggest problem weeds infesting Australian cropping fields are annual ryegrass, wild radish, wild oats and brome grass. Walsh explains that these annual species all have high genetic diversity, boast prolific seed production, can establish high population densities and have relatively short-lived seed banks. They also retain a significant portion of their seeds at maturity, meaning that many seeds remain attached to the upright plant and are collected during the grain crop harvest. Walsh and his colleagues have developed alternative weed control strategies or harvest weed seed control (HWSC) systems used during commercial grain harvest operations to minimize fresh seed inputs to the seedbank and lower overall weed populations.

 “The clear message now emerging from our research is that all feasible and practical means need to be used to drive weed populations to the lowest possible levels in crop production fields,” explains Walsh. “Very low weed populations are not just about avoiding or managing herbicide resistance, but more about improved crop production systems. When weeds are not dictating the cropping practices, the production system becomes much more flexible and profitable. More specifically though, we have learned that adding HWSC at the end of the growing season to target weed seeds perfectly complements herbicide-based weed control programs to deliver very low crop-weed densities.” 

HWSC systems significantly reduce weed seed
Walsh and his team have developed and tested HWSC systems in Australia including narrow-windrow burning, chaff carts, bale direct and the Harrington Seed Destructor. These HWSC systems target the weed seed bearing chaff material during commercial grain harvest. The research program, part of the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative (AHRI), also provides growers with best practices for adopting and implementing these systems (

Narrow-windrow burning is currently the most widely adopted HWSC system in Australia and is used by about 70 per cent of crop producers in Western Australia. This simple, effective and inexpensive system uses a grain harvester mounted chute to concentrate all of the chaff and straw residues into a narrow-windrow (500 to 600 millimetres, or 20 to 24 inches). “These narrow windrows are burned after harvest, with weed seed kill levels averaging 70 to 80 per cent and as high as 99 per cent for both annual ryegrass and wild radish in wheat, canola and lupin chaff, and straw residues,” says Walsh. “Narrow windrows are ideal because they burn hotter and longer, killing the weed seeds and minimizing the area burned, which keeps residue on the fields to minimize erosion risk.”

Chaff cart systems consist of a chaff collection and transfer mechanism attached to a grain harvester that delivers the weed seed bearing chaff fraction into a bulk collection bin. The collected chaff must be managed properly to prevent returning the weed seeds to the field. The chaff is usually dumped in heaps in a line across fields to be burned or used for livestock feed. A Bale Direct System consists of a large square baler directly attached to the harvester that constructs bales from the chaff and straw residues exiting the grain harvester. Although both are efficient systems, the post-harvest management requirement for chaff and the lack of markets for baled materials has currently limited the adoption of these systems.

The Harrington Seed Destructor (HSD) was developed in 2007 by an innovative Australian crop producer, Ray Harrington, as a system to process the weed-seed bearing chaff during the harvest operation. The HSD technology went into commercial production in 2012 and comprises a trailer-mounted cage mill, with chaff and straw transfer systems, and a diesel motor as a power source that is hooked to the rear of the combine. Evaluation of this system under commercial harvest conditions by AHRI over a number of seasons determined that HSD destroyed at least 95 per cent of annual weed seeds during harvest. The cost of purchasing an HSD system is approximately $240,000 (AUD).

“We have established estimated costs for these systems here in Australia; however, they may not necessarily be the same in other countries such as Canada because of the differences in cropping systems and production capacities,” explains Walsh. Based on a typical 4,000 ha cropping program in Australia, the costs for using HWSC systems per ha are roughly as follows (these numbers do not include the cost of nutrient removal):

  • Narrow-windrow burning    $2/ha
  • Chaff cart     $6/ha
  • Bale Direct     $18/ha
  • HSD    $16/ha

Research results confirm value of HWSC
Peter Newman, an AHRI colleague, evaluated the combined impact of herbicides plus HWSC over 10 consecutive seasons from 2002 to 2012, and found that targeted low weed densities were only achieved in fields where both early-season herbicides and HWSC were routinely practised. The research, conducted on fields where annual ryegrass densities were very high (35 to 50 plants per square metre), compared trials with herbicide treatments alone and trials with both in-crop herbicide treatments and late-season HWSC treatments. The goal was to reduce annual ryegrass populations to less than one plant per square metre. The annual ryegrass populations in the study were not herbicide resistant to the herbicides used in these studies.

As expected, effective herbicide treatments reduced in-crop annual ryegrass populations to less than 10 plants per square metre within five consecutive growing seasons, with populations averaging four plants per square metre for the rest of the study. The combined treatments of early-season herbicides and HWSC reduced annual ryegrass populations from an average of 35 plants per square metre in 2002 to 0.5 plants per square metre in 2011.

“Our research results confirm that the real value of HWSC systems is as part of a system that includes early-season weed control practices on weed seedlings, such as herbicides, and HWSC on late-season mature seed-bearing weeds to lower weed populations and minimize seedbank contributions,” says Walsh. “Low weed densities in cropping systems not only provide flexibility in crop choice, seeding time and herbicide use, they also play a critical role in sustaining herbicide resources for the ongoing control of crop weeds.

“Restricting weed population densities to very low levels also reduces the potential for resistance evolution to our remaining highly valued herbicide resources,” he adds. “Herbicide preservation is essential for sustaining future crop production so the addition of HWSC and other control strategies is absolutely necessary in supporting the ongoing efficacy of herbicides.”

Walsh says he believes the HWSC systems have potential as a new non-chemical weed control tool not only in Australia, but also in other major crop producing countries with similar crop weed populations, such as Canada, the U.S., Spain, Italy and Argentina. “The HWSC system is a tool to help achieve herbicide sustainability, to improve diversity and to help avoid exclusive reliance on herbicides for weed control,” he notes.


Published in Desiccants

The large, air-filled spaces, or "macropores," in untilled soil often resemble the branching vessels of the human circulatory system. Taking advantage of this similarity, a team of Nordic researchers led by Per Schjønning ( combined computed tomography (CT) scanning with traditional measurements of air exchange to "diagnose" the long-term impacts of soil compaction on the hidden, but vital, soil pore network.

In farm settings, soil can become compressed and unnaturally dense when heavy farm machinery is driven over it. But what the system of pores looks like in compacted soil hasn't been well studied.

When the Nordic scientists examined cores of compacted, heavy clay subsoil from a research site in Finland, they found the macropores were greatly affected compared with a non-compacted, control soil. In particular, the compacted soil contained mostly long, vertical "arterial" pores, or pipes, with significantly fewer "marginal" pores branching from them.

The findings appeared in the Nov.-Dec. 2013 issue of the Soil Science Society of America Journal.

Compaction also reduced the size of the vertical arteries, and just as in the human body, this constriction of the soil's "circulatory" system can have ill effects. Blocked and narrowed pores likely impede the diffusion of air through bulk soil, the scientists say. The dominance of vertical pipes in the compacted soil also suggests that water flows mostly downward, with relatively little reaching the surrounding soil matrix.

Both of these changes can reduce crop productivity. But most troubling to the researchers was how lasting the impacts of compaction appear to be. In the study, the group examined soil cores taken from a depth of 0.3 to 0.4 meters (0.9 to 1.2 feet) in plots where 30 years earlier a heavy tractor-trailer drove over the ground four times in an experimental treatment. (Only smaller farm equipment was used in subsequent years.)

Despite all the elapsed time, macropores in the compacted subsoil were still highly altered compared with control soils, indicating a poor ability of this heavy clay soil to recover its original structure. What's more, the damage was done by wheel loads (3.2 Mg per tractor rear wheel and 4.8 Mg per trailer wheel) that are considerably lower than those used in agriculture today.

What this all says is that while subsoil compaction is easy to ignore because it's hard to see, it definitely deserves more study, say the researchers. And what better to help diagnose this hidden problem than CT—a medical instrument that detects equally stealthy problems in the human body?


Published in Soil

Jan. 7, 2014 - Lemken is set to unveil the new Rubin 12 compact-disc harrow in Canada. The new harrow allows farmers to work the soil at deeper depths to incorporate heavy crop residue, according to a news release.

Designed to work at depths of 5 to 8 inches, the Rubin 12 delivers intensive, uniform mixing and crumbling in one pass – even in very heavy soil – making it an ideal primary tillage tool for corn growers in the fall.

"We also see many grain, canola, pulse, and vegetable growers across Canada dealing with more and more trash who want to work the soil deeper for better residue management. The Rubin 12 is perfectly suited to those types of operations," says LEMKEN Canadian sales manager, Laurent Letzter. "The penetration depth and large disc diameter on the Rubin 12 are also ideal for breaking pastureland," he adds.

The Rubin 12 offers 29-inch serrated discs. As well, a new Central Hydraulic Depth Adjustment allows farmers to set the working depth of the discs from their cab. The Rubin 12 combines multiple tillage functions in a single pass. An impact harrow behind the front row of discs is followed by a levelling harrow and depth guiding rollers, which pack and level the soil to help prevent erosion and moisture loss. Farmers have the option of removing the rollers if they wish.

Six Rubin 12 models will be available in Canada with delivery beginning in July 2014. The Rubin 12 is offered in widths ranging from 10 to 20 feet with a variety of hitch options including a mounted, semi-mounted and trailed version. The semi-mounted version features a Uni-wheel, which mechanically lifts the roller and reduces the weight load on the rear tractor axle when the implement is raised for easy road transport and manoeuvrability on the headlands.

Published in Tractors
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