Farmer's Weekly|May 22 - 29, 2020
The latest combines virtually run themselves. The header, however, still requires manual adjustments.
Combine harvesters become more sophisticated every season. A host of sensors and algorithms monitor and manage the threshing process to ensure it is run optimally from the header onwards to minimise losses.
Yet, according to a study by Iowa State University in the US, no less than 60% of all maize losses were found to occur at the header itself. US farmers mentioned losses becoming a problem when harvesting at moisture levels below 20%; their new hybrids dry down faster. But farming conditions in South Africa are even drier. Our moisture levels of 13% pose a far greater risk of losses. An ear of maize is thus more fragile under South African conditions, and the aim is therefore to keep it intact all the way into the combine for threshing. Handling the ear with care will prevent losses caused by ear bounce, butt shelling and bulldozing.
I would encourage farmers to take some measurements this season and see how many kernels lie behind the header before the combine passes.
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May 22 - 29, 2020