Just how much grain are you leaving in the field?
It’s a question Trevor Scherman and his father, Pat, pondered many times on their farm near Battleford, Sask. Trevor says they discussed “where that fine line was (between) how fast can we go and how much crop can we afford to leave in the field.”
One year after harvest, the Schermans sat down to figure out how best to measure their harvest losses. They came up with a product that they dubbed the ScherGain Solution System. It includes a magnetic, rectangular drop pan. A remote control switches the magnets on and off. Trevor says the drop pan easily attaches to the back of most combines in four seconds.
Once the combine is running and the choppers are off, a farmer switches off the magnets. The pan will drop, catching the lost grain. Farmers can then clean the grain with screens and blow out the extra chaff.
ScherGain also comes with a grain gauge and a chart. The chart factors in crop type and header width. Farmers pour the grain into the gauge, and consult the chart to figure out their losses. The system also comes with a battery and two remotes.
Trevor says ScherGain was seven years in the making. The Schermans waited until they’d filed the patent before they started marketing the product. In June 2017, they launched the ScherGain during canolaPALOOZA in Saskatoon.
“It pretty much went viral on Twitter,” says Trevor. “And what we thought we’d sell for the whole season, we sold that day. We had people asking from Australia, Brazil, France, Paraguay. So it’s been pretty amazing.”
Why harvest losses matter
The Canola Council of Canada notes that farmers can lose up to five bushels per acre during harvest. And given the small size of canola seeds, farmers are unlikely to notice those losses unless they measure them.
Trevor said they were very surprised by how much grain they were losing on their own farm. And he says they’ve found other farmers are losing a lot of crop as well.
Often the problem is that farmers are running combines at a higher horse power. While machinery manufacturers talk about horse power, he points out that for crops such as canola, a farmer doesn’t need all that horsepower. Instead, they need to thresh properly, he says.
While finding out how much crop a person is leaving in the field can leave them feeling “shocked and sickened” at first, Trevor says it’s “better to know and correct the problem than to continue to turn a blind eye.”
After all, those losses can be costly. If canola is at $10 a bushel, and a farmer leaves four bushels in the field, that’s $40 per acre, he points out.
“If you can get down to under a bushel, that’s a comfortable loss, for your efficiency and your cost of operation,” says Trevor.
ScherGains sell for $1,800, and the Schermans will ship them internationally. Trevor says they build the product themselves and test every unit before it leaves the shop. “We like to have control of everything.”
As the summer drew to a close, the Schermans had sold all the ScherGains that they could get supplies for, Trevor says. Farmers can pre-order for next year by visiting ScherGain.ca.
“We’re definitely gearing up for next year because demand has been incredible.”