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Monitor that monitor

There are different ways of calibrating a yield monitor. What's yours?

How did that canola run?” Whether or not you want to tell the truth in town, if you’re getting your answer from the yield monitor in the cab, make sure it’s well calibrated.

“It’s critical to get an accurate calibration,” says Ward Anticura, integrated solutions manager at Battle River Implements in Camrose, Alta.

“Some guys will fill their hopper up, then estimate based on a full hopper. That’s not accurate,” Anticura says. “It’s nearly impossible to do an accurate calibration without some way of weighing it.”

It’s getting easier to do this at home. Many farmers have accurate scales on their grain carts. Some ag service providers offer weigh wagon services. Using these tools can be crucial if you’re planning to use your yield estimates to decide how much fertilizer to apply next season. If accuracy matters to you, Anticura says, “Find somebody with a weigh wagon. Borrow a neighbour’s cart, or go to town.”

“If you’re using that data for variable rate management zone purposes, it’s important to have accurate yield calibration,” Anticura says. “It’s also important to have consistent yield calibration if you have more than one combine in the field.”

There are different methods to calibrating each yield monitor, so Anticura says, “It’s important that the customer understands the procedure for his particular model.” The most important challenge is “just taking the time to do it. It’s one of those things that’s a bit of a pain. But if the data if important to you, then the calibration is important.“

Aaron Bouchard, agronomic services representative for Syngenta Canada Inc., says adjusting for moisture is an important part of accurate yield monitor calibration. “A lot of it comes back to the grain moisture.”

Although a lot of farmers rely heavily on the numbers on the screen, Bouchard says, “If you’re doing trials, the yield monitor is not the best way to really gauge your performance.” For trials, especially corporate-run trials, a higher degree of accuracy will give a more useful result. For Syngenta’s trials, Bouchard says, “We prefer to use a weigh wagon.”

It can be a hassle to take the time to calibrate your yield monitor, and it’s a job that needs to be done on the busiest day of the year. However, Anticura says, “If you recognize the importance of it, then you’ll do what you’ve got to do to get the information accurate.”

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