Frequently Asked Questions
Although another aspect is added to an already busy time, the benefits of consistent harvest weed seed management are well established. As herbicide resistance becomes widespread, it is increasingly necessary to have an efficient non chemical tool in the system, eliminating a large percentage of seed that has escaped all other in-crop treatments.
Here are some general comments and answers to queries received. If there is anything further at all which we can help with, a contact by email or phone is always welcome. So:
Q. Chaff Carts as an ongoing weed management option?
A. The carts’ simplicity and minimal power input compared to other harvest time seed control measures, plus capability for use in all crop types and moisture conditions is difficult to replicate in other systems. Also, having a ready stockfeed resource is appreciated by many owners and with uses for the residue being found in addition to feed value, such as reclamation of marginally saline areas by spreading chaff, mean there is an ongoing role for carts as a valuable farm management tool. Tecfarm Smartcart owner comments verify the carts’ low power requirement as well as exceptional reliability and functionality in the field.
Q. Which headers are suitable for cart use?
A. Practically all later model headers are suitable. Many are simple to connect to the cart, with very little adjustment to the hydraulic supply and quite straightforward to fit required chuting so are cheaper and quicker to set up. One or two makes of harvester benefit from a hydraulic flow control kit. All the carts are alike and hitches are similar, so changing over to a different header make is not a problem.
Q. Does the use of a cart require high power input and is it stressful on the structure of the header?
A. Power requirement is quite low with owners reporting little difference to available power reserve when towing the cart. Tecfarms’ specially designed hitch located from the front axle of the harvester virtually eliminates stresses on the harvester frame and chassis. The hitch is standard equipment, included in the purchase price.
Q. How difficult is setting up for chaff collection from the header into the cart?
A. Individual expectations of the system differ, so time spent on some research is well worthwhile. Carts are often set up to collect mainly chaff with minimum possible straw, while others collect 100% exiting the header. Most headers are relatively simple to adapt, however a custom built chute is required to direct the desired amount of material onto the belt and hydraulic power is required to be sourced from the harvester. Otherwise carts are supplied with all equipment i.e. programmable controller, hitch, bin full, shaft speed, door closed monitoring and camera. Each owner’s preference as to how much material and what ratio of chaff to straw is collected largely determines the setup. There are a good number of Smartcarts and other conveyor fed carts operating very successfully, with many owners happy to share experience. Tecfarm is always available to provide as much advise as needed. No permanent modification to the structure of the harvester is required.
Q. What percentage of weed seed is typically removed by a chaff cart?
A. This is very dependent on several factors: good setup, harvest timing, cutting height etc, but a high proportion of seed capture is achievable. Many owners harvest crops containing the highest weed burden earlier in the programme, before significant shedding of seed. See links to research sites in “Tecfarm News”
Q. How far can the header travel before dumping?
A. Again, many factors are in play to determine distance between dumps, so there is no straightforward answer. The amount of material being captured totally determines filling time and this can be influenced by day to day variables such as crop type and moisture content, rotor speed etc. Smartcarts are capable of collecting large amounts of residue up 100% of material exiting the machine. So owner preference largely determines dumping frequency. If just a small amount of straw is directed into the cart along with the chaff, unloading is minimised so that typically dumps can be in one line at the centre of each run or at the ends.
Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative (AHRI) work has shown an average around 4 cubic metres chaff per tonne of grain as a guide.
A. Thirty, Forty and Fifty cubic metre Smartcarts are standard sizes. They are sized to suit individual farms. The SC40 and SC50 are among the largest Chaff Carts in the world but compact design means good manoeuvrability with high capacity. The SC50 reduces dumping to a minimum and while just as nimble in the field, it is slightly wider than dual wheels on the header so best suited to farms with wider road access.
Q. Is burning heaps before seeding the only option?
A. Not necessarily. Burning heaps may remain common practice, but now an increasing number of growers experience good results by lowering heap height and seeding through. Smartcarts are excellent for this option, having the unique programming function of the One Touch controller to establish required dumping height. Not burning reduces workload, has no fire risk and surprisingly little weed growth in the area of the heaps. In the following season weed seed has begun to compost, leaving few survivors. Nutrients are retained and become the best areas of crop after a season or two. Another idea is to leave a proportion of heaps to burn in the growing crop, particularly near areas that are unsafe or inconvenient to burn earlier. Take a look at the webinar in “Tecfarm News – Seeding through chaff heaps”
Q. What is the stockfeed value in the heaps?
A. Chaff heaps are typically at least 6% protein so are a valuable resource. Heaps are grazed in situ by stock over summer meaning much less hand feeding, a major secondary benefit of the Smartcart appreciated by owners. Modern wheat varieties with a low straw to grain ratio, cut short and spread at harvest leave very little feed for stock, so concentrating the residue in heaps means the feed is more available. Chaff is also a good base for feedlot rations, baled from the heaps or otherwise moved to the stock. Tecfarm is considering ways to economically pick up and transport material using the cart towed by a tractor.
Q. Operational mass and transport dimensions of the Carts?
Tare Mass: 3200kg. Width: 4600mm. Height: 4150mm. Length: 10900mm. Wheeltrack: 4000mm
Truck transport width: 3450mm with wheels and axles removed. Height 3.8m above truck tray. No escort required.
Always check legal escorting requirement for road towing.
Tare Mass: 3450kg. Width: 5350mm. Height: 4150mm. Length: 10900mm. Wheeltrack: 4750mm
Truck transport width: 4200mm with wheels and axles removed. Height 3.8m above truck tray. Escort required.
Always check legal escorting requirement for road towing.
Tare mass: 3700kg. Width: 6100mm. Height: 4150mm: Length: 10900mm. Wheeltrack: 5500mm
Truck transport width: 4950mm with wheels and axles removed. Height 3.8m above truck tray. Front and rear escort required.
Please note: Appropriate permits must be obtained from relevant authorities and presented at the point of loading before any oversize machines will be released for transport. To avoid inconvenience, always check legal requirement for truck transport or for road towing.
Smartcart design allows excellent road towing ability at reasonable speeds. Towing vehicle legal minimum mass must be observed.