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This article was published 6/9/2016 (1788 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Finding a better way to separate sticky hemp fibres and cut canola for maximum seed harvest are two of the projects that Prairie Agriculture Machinery Institute staff are working on.
The federal and provincial governments recently announced a total of $400,000 in funding for Manitoba research projects. PAMI will receive $288,400 to help cover the costs of six projects.
"The economic benefits of our agricultural research are very impressive because the findings can be implemented by many agricultural producers in Manitoba," said PAMI CEO Dave Gullacher, in a news release. "Recent studies show work such as this produces $15 to $20 in benefits for every dollar invested, which is essential for our industry. We will be developing strong funding partnerships with industry and will work closely with a great number of agricultural producers to carry out this work."
PAMI was established in 1975 as a central agency to develop and evaluate agricultural machinery. Originally funded by the Manitoba and Saskatchewan governments, public money was gradually decreased, putting the onus on PAMI staff to seek out partnerships with private companies, such as large agricultural machinery manufacturers.
"We had to adapt," said PAMI vice-president of operations in Portage la Prairie Harvey Chorney. "Luckily we already had good relationships with a lot of the farm machinery companies."
He said PAMI now brings in about half of its annual revenue through private sector work. It has offices at the University of Manitoba and University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, and larger facilities in Portage la Prairie and Humboldt, Sask. Twelve people work in the Portage location.
Chorney said field-testing is now underway in farmers’ fields as some of PAMI’s current projects are focused on harvesting improvements. One project involves growing a linen flax variety and seeing how it can best be cut, allowed to ret, or age, in the field, then baled in a way in which it can be efficiently fed into a decorticator to extract the fibre.
Testing is also being done on canola harvesting methods to compare straight combining crops with the traditionally used windrow method to see which will better preserve the pods that hold the seeds. A desiccant is also being tested on windrowed canola to test its ability to dry the crop in the field.
"This is a really big project," Chorney said, with the Canola Council of Canada, MacDon and agricultural chemical companies also involved.
As more Manitoba farmers are growing soybeans, PAMI is conducting research into ways to cut soybean stalks closer to the ground to harvest more of the lowest-growing pods.
"We’re studying how speed affects this and the different angles of cutting," Chorney said.
Hemp is also now being grown more commonly in western Canada. Chorney said there is value in the hemp stalk fibre but the fibres tend to stick together when they are baled. Because the fibre is usually processed in one-stalk thickness, the stalks need to be separated.
PAMI is also working with an Australian company to test software that measures the temperature of grain inside a storage bin and also the bin’s external temperature, then uses this information to trigger aeration fans to reduce the bin’s internal humidity. Aeration helps prevent moisture problems such as mould growth and insect infestations in stored grain.
"They’ve been working on this for 15 years in Australia," Chorney said. Although the climate conditions are different in western Canada and Australia, the research is valuable for farmers in both countries.
PAMI is also working on developing guidelines and tools for consolidating on-farm surface water. Chorney said installing a set of plastic perforated pipes for tile drainage in a field prevents standing surface water and can store subsurface water to help during dry periods. Tile drainage can help control runoff from the heavy rains that seem to be more common occurrences in Manitoba.
The initial cost of installation is between $500 and $1,000 per acre, but can pay long-term dividends.
"The first adaptors have been those growing high-value crops, such as vegetables," Chorney said.
The consistency in crop growth throughout a field with tile drainage installed will also bring in extra money, making the investment more attractive.
Chorney said the goal of PAMI’s research is to benefit farmers. "We are trying to add value."
For more information on PAMI, see pami.ca
St. Vital community correspondent
Andrea Geary is a community correspondent for St. Vital and was once the community journalist for The Headliner.