PROTEIN blending in the paddock is now a commercial reality with on-the-go harvester sensing technologies, yet uptake is slow says a developer.
Philip Clancy CEO of Next Instruments said while prototype real-time protein sensors were introduced to Australian paddocks over fifteen years ago adoption of commercial monitors had been limited.
“The marketplace has been very slow to take it up,” he said.
The Next Instrument grain protein sensor was developed in 2003 with the current CropScan 300H On Combine Analyser released commercially in 2013.
Mr Clancy estimated their were 200 of the current sensors fitted for this years harvest.
The CropScan 300H is a near infrared analyser and measures protein, oil and moisture in grains and oil seeds as they are harvested.
With protein measurement you can make decisions on the fly which will generate profit
Mr Clancy explained the sensor worked by trapping grain in a remote sampling head as it travels up the clean grain elevator.
“Light passes through the sample of grains and is collected by a fibre optic cable on the opposite side,” he said.
“The light is transmitted back to the NIR spectrometer inside the harvester’s cabin.”
Mr Clancy said a touch screen PC located in the cabin then computes the protein, oil and moisture of the grains and presents the data in the form of real-time paddock maps, trend plots and bin by bin tabulation.
The CropScan 300H can be fitted to all major brands of modern combine harvesters as long as they were in good working order, he said.
Mr Clancy said he was not sure why there was a low uptake, but it may be due to a lack of confidence following early models not working very well, their own included.
He said with the newer model they are confident accuracy is comparable with industry standards and have at least one Australian case study which compared accuracy.
“If you ask the majority of users they will say it comes back within 0.2-0.3 percent from the silo,” he said.
Mr Clancy said the company also had case studies from growers across Australia showing the profit benefits of the technology and spoke about them at a recent GRDC update in Pallamallawa NSW.
“One was able to monitor protein levels as the bin filled and switch to a lower or higher protein section of the field until the bin average reached 13.5 per cent.”
“He reported that every load was accepted as APH1 grade which at the time attracted a $30 per tonne premium.
“This practice generated an estimated additional $40,000 in grain payments across the farm,” he said.
This practice generated an estimated additional $40,000 in grain payments across the farm