INSIDERSColour SortersHow to Stand out from the Crowd Through Better Processing

How to Stand out from the Crowd Through Better Processing

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The most challenging problem when looking for processing equipment is not really knowing what you are buying until you purchase it, install it and start using it. It’s kind of like purchasing a car or a combine — usually you can take that car or combine for a test drive or demo. With seed cleaning equipment, you really have to go off other peoples’ experiences.

Or so I thought.

I had no idea whatsoever how to clean seed or even how seed was cleaned up until seven years ago. Our operation had outsourced all of its seed cleaning for many years and we finally decided that we were ready to take it on. I had contacted a couple processing equipment suppliers and started my research for equipment for what I thought might work.

I had contacted Nexeed and flat-out told them I had no idea how any of the equipment worked. They took the time to explain what each piece of equipment did, asking me what crops we grew and what we wanted to process — and also what our goals were. The whole experience taught me some key factors you need to consider when buying processing equipment.

Know what you want to accomplish. Our main goal when we decided to build our own seed cleaning plant, and what pushed us to build our own, was the need for gentle handling. About a third of our farm was pulse crops and they were a challenge to get cleaned elsewhere without damage. We also were trucking or hiring out trucking at harvest to get our fall crops processed off the combine quickly and then available for sale for fall planting.

We also process high quality pedigreed seed, and there are smaller tolerances for other crops in seed lots. We have reduced the amount of roguing needed in our fields for crop inspection (also done by processing the seed in-house). Still, things can still get missed in field roguing, and it’s amazing what the colour sorter can find that we didn’t know was in the seed lot.

We were cleaning seed at three different seed cleaning plants all through the year. We first purchased an CIMBRIA Delta Super Cleaner with the first initial setup, then added a CIMBRIA Heid Indent and a CIMBRIA Heid Gravity Separator two years later, and just last summer installed a CIMBRIA SEA Optical Sorter (all from Nexeed). Initially I had thought to put a mobile seed cleaning system together, but I really liked the equipment and help from Nexeed and wasn’t sure a mobile would be the right choice.

Eventually I decided we should utilize our storage building for our seed processing facility. I remember drawing the layout of what I thought the plant should look like, emailing it to Nexeed’s Rod Cockerline so he could look over it and give me ideas for what might work and what I should do to allow for the next pieces of equipment to fit into the system.

Communication is key. There were quite a few emails back and forth with Rod on the design, which was extremely helpful because I didn’t know how the equipment worked. Rod did, and was able to say, “Nope, there isn’t enough slope here or maybe we could move this piece over a bit or give you some more room here for access.”

Customer service starts right from the beginning, with the very first conversation. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and you really have to trust the supplier’s knowledge of the equipment and how it is going to perform and function. Once we had the equipment installed, the supplier should come out to teach you how to run the equipment. Nexeed did all of this.

I found that Nexeed actually knew how the equipment worked and it was very valuable for someone with no experience. All the equipment was ordered right and showed up when it was expected to show up, and Nexeed communicated with me the whole time.

In the past, I have had equipment experiences where the salesperson or tech had no idea how to use the equipment, the equipment was not designed for what I needed it to do and the equipment underperformed in capacity. Nexeed told me right from the beginning that there were max ratings for the equipment but there is also a sweet spot on the equipment for seed quality (they never oversold the equipment).

Bob, Nexeed’s colour sorter tech, came out last year after we installed the colour sorter and taught us how to use the machine. I can text Bob and he can log in to our colour sorter from wherever he is and help me get difficult seed lots cleaned by adjusting the recipe, something I’m still working to learn.

Develop a vision. You should work with a supplier who understands that processing equipment is an investment in the future of your overall operation. The main reason our farm has grown exponentially over the past 10 years has been the fact we’ve taken a holistic approach to our operation: marketing, sales support, easy seed pickup and smooth paperwork processes, and of course good seed quality. When customers purchase seed, it’s a big investment and there are many seed growers to choose from. I believe that in our colour sorter has really improved our overall quality.

I never thought that we needed a colour sorter in our seed plant, but it really makes the seed that much better and that much better quality for our customers. We put a pile of effort into our farming side to produce high quality seed, and we should have the best quality possible on the seed side of the operation. Working with an equipment supplier who understands that makes all the difference.

Matthew Stamphttp://nexeed.ca
Matthew is a partner in Stamp Seeds. He specializes in seed cleaning, seed treating and seed quality.