Optimizing Harvest: How Western Canadian farmers are preparing for harvest

Ask a farmer when they start preparing for harvest and they’ll chuckle and tell you they already started the same day they finished the previous year’s harvest.

Preparing equipment for harvest and assessing what type of equipment is needed for changing or streamlining on-farm practices is all part of the equation that leads farmers to a successful, optimized harvest.

Joel Hoehn, Divisional Service Manager, Rocky Mountain Equipment (RME), is responsible for 19 service departments across Western Canada and knows just how seriously farmers take preparing for harvest.

“Most of our customers will come in as soon as they’ve wrapped up the previous year’s harvest,” says Hoehn. “They see the value of coming in while issues they may have had are still top-of-mind.
There’s nothing more frustrating for a farmer than when he or she puts the machine in the shed and then pulls it out the following fall without getting it ready for harvest ahead of time.”

“Usually right after harvest, I bring my equipment into the dealership to get the process started,” explains Morten Jensen, who runs Kjersgaard farm Ltd Farms Ltd., a 3,000 acre cereals and oilseed operation in Saskatchewan.

He’s been working with RME since the inception of the branch in his area.

“They give me a report of what should be done to my equipment, then I go through it and do some of it myself and engage RME in any of the larger fixes.
For many producers, a large part of preparing for harvest is optimizing their equipment.

“I work with the service department to make sure my GPS equipment and programs are up-to-date and calibrated, once per year,” says Craig Tiemstra, owner of Shoal Creek Farms, a 3,800 acre grain farm north of Westlock, Alberta.

“I work through the summer to make sure my equipment is ready for harvest and if there’s anything I can’t handle myself, it heads to the dealer for repairs. If I do need a repair done during harvest, RME treats me very well and gives me loaner equipment so I’m not losing time in the field.

“Optimization starts when we finish harvest,” agrees Kevin Hruska, owner of Hruska Land and Ag Corp., a 45,000 acre family grain farm. “A large part of preparing for harvest on our farm is getting GPSs online and working and making sure all of our employees are properly trained.”

For example, last year we had a field day with RME’s specialists for our new operators to ensure they were ready for harvest and up-to-speed on new machines and technologies.

“Our Ag Optimization Specialists, or AOS department, is a group of what used to be known as the “GPS crew” or the ‘precision farming specialists’ at each RME location,” explains Chad Moskal, Manager of AOS, RME.

“We’ve taken that role and added several different specialties within it, for example, variable rate, GPS and precision guidance.

We work to optimize the equipment we sell to our customers by making adjustments so each machine will run at its full potential for a specific operation’s needs.
As Moskal explains, AOS can include making calibrations on a sprayer and adjusting individual nozzle controls. In a combine, it may mean changing settings for each crop or field-type and condition.

“We’ve evolved that same ‘GPS person’ to become someone focused on helping our customers get the most out of their equipment,” says Moskal.

“It’s completely based on what the producer is hoping to achieve and how we can customize the equipment to his or her operation.

“Data collection and interpretation is one of the major things we do when preparing customers for harvest,” explains Moskal. “We focus on preparing the farmer and the equipment to collect data in a proper way. What I mean by that, is making sure equipment is calibrated and properly set-up. Post-harvest, the data is used for yield maps and prescription mapping for fertilizer or even seeding for the next spring. “We’re definitely seeing a greater number of people adopting our support package model.”

“Even if you don’t have a brand new piece of equipment, we’re happy to support your products. We’re always willing to set up equipment during the summer and pre-harvest or do one-on-one training.

When it comes down to the optimized harvest, each farm requires a unique and customized approach.

From the moment the combine turns off, farmers are already planning next year’s harvest. Farmers are connecting with equipment optimization specialists to help them prepare for changes in technology, precision data collection and calibration as well as exploring different equipment options.