Location: Casson Farms – Medstead, Saskatchewan
Combine: New Holland CR9060; New Holland CX8080; New Holland TR98
Crop Type: Wheat, Canola, Peas
Bryn Casson operates Casson Farms, the family farm near Medstead Saskatchewan. Originally, they started using FarmTRX yield monitors on their New Holland CR9060, TR96 and TR98 combines. Adding a CX8080 when the TR96 was retired was welcome, given the extra capability it added for their 2400 acres. Swapping out the FarmTRX yield monitor from the TR to the CX would have been easy and only a couple hours of work, but the CX came with a FarmTRX yield monitor already installed – a nice bonus.
Swathing vs. Straight-Cut – Harvest time can be a short and challenging period this far north, with snow often threatening throughout the harvest season. “It’s a bit of a different ball game north of the number 3 highway”, jokes Casson. “This year was a tough one, we still had about 300 acres of canola left to harvest in Spring – we couldn’t handle anymore wet grain”.
Straight cutting canola is a common practice further south where it can dry down faster, but it requires rare and ideal conditions at this latitude. Swathing is the common practice and was a necessity in the Fall. “It was brutal going. We had to stop and unplug the swather every hundred feet or so.” recalls Casson. “I’ve always wanted to do a straight cut canola trial, and after plugging away with the swather for a few days it seemed like the year to do it.” Although the trial didn’t get harvested until the Spring, surprisingly, the yield results were nearly identical, but the straight cut canola graded #1 vs. the swathed canola at #2. The FarmTRX yield monitor provided a tangible measurement to add to time and fuel savings, which supported the more important intangibles – easier, better quality and less headaches!
Factory vs. FarmTRX – the CR9060 already had a factory yield monitor. “We use both yield monitors, but when the factory yield monitor goes haywire we don’t bother stopping, we still get consistent data from the FarmTRX yield monitor”, says Casson. Since the New Holland is a mass flow sensor and the FarmTRX is a volume flow sensor, the two are independent and can run simultaneously on the same combine. When they are both calibrated and operating properly the results are very similar, as evidenced by the yield maps below. Both were acquired simultaneously from the 54-acre pea field by the CR9060.
Calibration Accuracy – though Casson runs both yield monitors on his CR9060 combine, with all things being equal, he prefers to use the FarmTRX system. “The New Holland system works fine, but there are a lot of buttons, steps and calibration exercises to get going. The FarmTRX is simple, easier to use and get my data from”, says Casson. The FarmTRX yield monitor also showed great accuracy when field-calibrated by weight with the weigh wagon. An example canola field was 99.95% accurate; (under by 1.44 lbs) estimated at 3130.56 lbs compared to the total actual field weight of 3132 lbs.
Fungicide Trial Assessment – everyone associated with the farm was excited in August 2019 when Bryn started showing the Climate Fieldview NDVI imagery for the wheat fungicide trials. The early results from a July fungicide trial looked spectacular. “You could see exactly where I unfolded the booms and started spraying”.
Leading into harvest time, the fungicide trial area continued to look promising. Though it was expensive, the results warranted consideration for widespread use the following season. “I was excited while harvesting this trial area and was expecting to see great yield results based on the satellite imagery”, but Casson was in for a surprise. “Satellite imagery is a great tool for in-season decision making, but It doesn’t necessarily translate to your final yield. You need a yield monitor for that”, said Casson. The fungicide translated into strong plant health and growth but had very little impact on the yield itself.
Comparison in Climate Fieldview – exporting the corrected yield map was a couple mouse clicks and a minute or so of processing time from the FarmTRX web app. Importing the yield map to Climate Fieldview was simple and took mere seconds. Drag and drop the field.zip file onto the import tab; it automatically unzipped, opened and registered to the right location with high-resolution yield data retained. Overlaying the NDVI and yield data revealed the story and allowed comparison of data from various sources in Fieldview. Visually, there is no difference between the fungicide trial area in the north and non-trial area in the south. Average yield confirmed this: trial = 71.10 bu/ac; non-trial = 71.18 bu/ac.
Conclusion – it’s easy to get excited and emotional about the visual impact a great crop has while scouting, reviewing NDVI data, or while harvesting, but whether it moved the profit needle or not is all about the yield data. Having a yield monitor that is affordable, easy to install, simple to operate, and provides quantitative, accurate results is important. Easily accessing and using this data with other data sources in a comprehensive farm management, agronomy or precision ag platform is critical to see the full picture.