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Published on:

12th Jan 2021

[Bonus] Equipment Considerations for Growing Pulses

Paul Kanning led our panel on “Making Your Farm Equipment Work for you.” Paul is the MPCC Vice Chair as well as a producer from Flaxville, Montana. He was joined by Lowell Harris, a service manager at Torgerson’s LLC, Phil Moodie, a store manager for Front Line Ag, James Neumon, a service manager from Hoven Equipment Company and Mike Kjos, a store manager for C & B Operations. Needless to say, with a panel like this you are going to hear great insight into what the industry standard is for equipment use and management with pulse crops.

The first topic of discussion was air seeders and what steps need to be taken to prevent seed coat damage during the seeding process. There was general consensus that slowing down to 1- 1 1/2 per hour to give a pulse producer the best chances of success. James highlights the need for gentle handling and special considerations including a rubber pad to the top of the seed tower to create more cushion for the seeds. While the additional pad is not a factory option it has been gaining traction by word of mouth for better protection of the seed.  Both Lowell and James recommend a well managed and controlled airspeed. Lowell also offered picking specific augers and meter rolls to compliment the other practices. Both Mike and Phil agreed that  using the largest sized tooth sprocket in the meter housing as an additional course of action can add further protection. In addition, consistent ground speed and secondary towers can create a greater seeding consistency. 

Paul moved on to roller techniques that producers can use to embed rocks. Ensuring good soil conditions such as with a little moisture will make the roller more effective. Also, using your roller as soon after drilling can give you the best results. 

With the amount of investment and time spent on sprayers in pulse operations, maintenance is a very important part of a sprayers management. Mike discussed changing hub oil regularly and although its time consuming he recommends doing it yearly. James added rinsing off the sprayer after use to avoid rust and damage to the machine. Lowell agreed with the previous recommendations and added greasing the moving parts to keep them in the best working condition. Phil added monitoring the hydraulic lines and the drive line throughout the machine to avoid a fluid transfusion. 

Some producers are still using swathers rather than applying a desiccant. Phil admits to not having many producers using this technique but suggests managing the flow pressure and the guard angle to make sure it is getting down as low as you can. James added adjusting the draper speed to make sure the crop lays easiest for pick up. 

James recommends adjusting the flotation of the header to the optimal height being crucial during harvest.  He also recommends paying attention to your guard angle and is very pleased with the technology involved in the flex drapers for pulse growers. Mike reiterated adjusting the flotation of the header to the optimal height. To keep with the theme throughout this panel, Mike highlighted the need for slow and steady progress in the field while operating a draper header. Lowell details different techniques to insure the flotation of the header is properly adjusted. 

Phil explains different additions for air reel options on flex drapers. The Crary is his preference if you are working a large amount of acres with pulses. Mike agrees that an air reel will pay for itself in the long run for pulse growers especially with a lentil crop. Lowell suggests also exploring a Macdon reel and that producers he has worked with have at times preferred them. James admits he doesn’t have many if any customers using an air reel at this time. He did say many of his producers are finding success with the Macdon reel. 

Lowell offers that “with any discussion about combine settings, everybody’s got a different opinion and most of them are right.” He does suggest that a lower rotor speed especially with pulse crops is a good option. James reiterates monitoring the rotor speed to run the combine as soft and gentle as possible. He does suggest swapping concaves out for pulse crops to be as gentle as possible. Again keeping with the theme of the panel, Phil highlights the need to move as slow as possible to have the best success and least damage to the crop. He does suggest an as open as possible rotor clearance and closing it as needed. 

Mike has experience with stripper header specifically the Shelbourne brand. He does suggest pursuing it has quickly as possible if interested because they sell out quickly. He did say he isn’t aware of any producers using it for pulse crops but has seen it used on small grains. The biggest advice he gives producers when adjusting their equipment is to please only adjust one change at a time and monitor for any improvements or change. This keeps you from making multiple adjustments and not knowing which if any are successful. 

Phil shares that manufacturers are pursuing pre-programmed settings for pulse crops in combines. At this time they are limited. He does suggest reaching out to manufacturers to push that process along. Lowell and James agreed that pulse crops are on the list for combine settings but have not completed them yet. James does suggest monitoring the progress of the combine to dial in the settings to your specific crop and fields when first using it. Once you have achieved the setting your want the machine will make small adjustments as needed from there.

A common concern for producers is a combine fire. Mike has observed that dragging a chain can help dissipate some of the static electricity. He also suggests using an air compressor to blow off the fine dust periodically. James adds that he has producers using a handheld laser temperature gun to check different bearings to see if anything stands out to find a bearing on its way out before it has the opportunity to start a fire. He also once again reiterates the need to go slow, monitor your machine and take your time to avoid any build up of excessive heat. Phil adds monitoring the exhaust as a common place for the fine dust from pulse crops to accumulate.

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About the Podcast

Growing Pulse Crops
The science and business of farming field peas, chickpeas, and lentils
Join us as we follow pulse crop farmers through the growing season and dive into the research that’s helping them through some of the challenges they face. We’ll also talk to a number of other industry stakeholders along the way.

Demand for these nutrient-dense, high-protein foods continues to grow. There is also interest from farmers to include more pulses into diverse rotations for benefits like nitrogen fixation and soil health.

But the industry continues to face challenges, and we are eager to address these head on. So if you’re a pulse grower or in any way interested in these important crops, hit subscribe and stay tuned for future episodes. We’ll be back with plenty of information about challenges pulse farmers are facing throughout the U.S. and what solutions are working.

Brought to you by the Pulse Crops Working Group with support from the North Central IPM Center and USDA NIFA.

About your host

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Tim Hammerich

I share stories about agriculture, agtech, and agribusiness on podcasts and radio.