Combines are essential, complex machines that are used for harvesting many different types of grains in mass quantities. The full name of this piece of essential machinery is combine harvester, but farmers know this vital tool simply as a combine. What is a combine used for on a farm? What do you need to drive a combine? Read on to learn more.
What You'll Learn Today
- History Of The Combine
- What Can Be Harvested With A Combine?
- How To Choose The Right Combine Harvester
- Is A Combine Harvester Expensive?
- Correct Maintenance, Adjustment & Clean-Out Are Key To Efficient Operation
- Combine Speed & Efficiency Depend Upon Many Factors
- How Do You Operate A Combine?
- Keep Safety At The Forefront!
History Of The Combine
Combines have been in use on farms in the United States since 1935. The first version was patented by a gentleman named Hiram Moore. The first combines were pulled by horses or mules. These were soon replaced by tractor drawn models.
Around 1950, self-propelled combines were introduced. In the 1980s, new, onboard electronic features were added to provide data regarding productivity. Combine design continues to improve with the passage of time.
The functions that are combined by this powerful machinery are:
What Can Be Harvested With A Combine?
Using a combine to harvest grains, a farmer can cut wide swaths of over 40 feet through a crop. Here are some of the crops combines can be used to harvest:
To harvest canola and sunflowers, a special attachment must be used.
How To Choose The Right Combine Harvester
To use your combine efficiently and safely, you must begin by selecting the right machine for your use. There are many different types of combine harvester and several fine combine manufacturers to choose from including:
- New Holland
- John Deere
- Case IH
All of these fine companies work hard on an ongoing basis to develop new technology and designs to meet the needs of modern farmers.
Several new models of combines, for example, have oversized grain tanks that can accommodate as many as 485 bushels of grain.
Additionally, the unloading speeds of modern combines can be up to 6 bushels every second. Modern farmers can make use of apps that allow them to monitor the performance of their combines in a remote fashion.
Modern, self-propelled combines are far more fuel-efficient than those that must be pulled by a tractor.
As technology advances, the latest and greatest in combines attain better and better fuel efficiency along with improved driver response and better traction.
Today, there are even combines that are especially equipped to be able to travel on the open road.
The Right Equipment Increases Speed & Acres Covered
Be sure to choose the right grain platform for your purpose. There are two types of grain platforms to choose from when selecting a combine.
- A traditional grain platform consists of an auger and the steel floor.
- A draper platform makes use of a belt for feeding the harvested crop into the combine, after which the grain is separated. Flex drapers make use of flex cutter bars which are self adjusting. This means that the heads can adjust automatically as the combine moves over small obstacles or uneven ground. This adds up to reduced grain loss as well as a minimization of problems that occur when wet plants clog up the works.
Is A Combine Harvester Expensive?
The price of combine harvesters can vary widely depending upon the brand and whether you buy new or used. Even with all of the modern advances available today, there are times when a used combine is a better choice.
It should come as no surprise that with all of the modern innovations, a brand-new combine can be an extremely expensive investment. On smaller farms or farms that specialize in one particular type of grain, all of these new bells and whistles may not be absolutely necessary.
Because a good combine is, by definition an extremely well-made machine, you should have no trouble finding a good, well-maintained used machine that will do exactly what you need it to do.
Whether you purchase from an individual or from farm machinery dealer, you will surely have the opportunity to make a good deal.
When determining the value of the model you’re considering, you’ll need to take its features into account. For example, combines that have rigid auger headers are not as valuable as those that have the more modern flexing draper headers.
Additionally the brand of the machinery you are considering makes a difference in its value.
Regardless of all of these features, understanding the history of the machine is of the utmost importance in determining its value.
If you are purchasing a combine from an individual, be sure to question the person closely regarding the past use and maintenance of the machine. As with any vehicle or machinery, a solid history of smart repair and maintenance is essential.
Correct Maintenance, Adjustment & Clean-Out Are Key To Efficient Operation
You want to be sure that the machine that you are purchasing has been well cared for and maintained on a regular basis. Likewise, after you purchase it you must continue to properly care for your combine.
Today’s powerful, modern combines are made to work at top capacity throughout the harvest season, but if you want them to be able to do this efficiently you must pay close attention to the care and maintenance of both the electronic and mechanical features of the machine.
You must start your maintenance regimen well before harvesting season begins. Perform a pre-inspection paying close attention to any trouble spots that may be subject to excessive wear and tear.
For example, you want to be sure to perform a thorough clean-out before harvest season begins. This can be very difficult and dirty job, but starting the season with a clean machine will help guarantee a successful harvest and helps ensure that your machine works at top capacity with a minimum of grain loss.
At the same time that you inspect and clean your combine, you should also inspect your records of harvest. Assess harvest performance of prior years to set your goals for this year.
Combine Speed & Efficiency Depend Upon Many Factors
If the prior year’s harvest was quite muddy, and you did not perform a complete cleaning at the end of the season, you’re sure to find a great deal of mud on the parts of your combine.
Conversely, if it was a very dry season, you’ll find lots of dust. All of this needs to be cleaned out to make sure that this season’s harvest is performed efficiently.
Another area upon which you should focus is the corn header. If you’re working with worn corn heads, you’re sure to lose a great deal of grain.
In fact, you may lose as much as 60% of your grain harvest if you’re working with worn corn heads. Be sure to inspect the corn heads thoroughly and adjust or replace them as needed for maximum efficiency.
Focus on these areas:
- Gathering the chain tension
- Inspecting the free moving deck plates
- Ensuring that the drive system is working well
- Examining the condition of the stalk roller
It’s extremely important that all parts of your combine are in tip top condition before you begin your harvest. Modern varieties of grains, especially corn, may have tougher stalks than older varieties.
Additionally, the fact that modern combines move through the crop very quickly means that all parts must be functioning optimally.
How Do You Operate A Combine?
A combine’s operation varies according to make and model. Once you have chosen the right machine for your purpose, it’s important that you become extremely familiar with it and learn to adjust it to suit your needs.
This can be a real art because adjusting one part of a combine, even a little bit, can end up severely impacting many other parts. This is why it’s very important that you initially familiarize yourself with your operators manual.
If you find that you need to make an adjustment during the harvest, do it in increments. Make one adjustment, give it a try and see how it impacts performance.
Don’t adjust many different parts at once as this will result in your not being able to sort out any problems that may arise. You won’t be able to tell what the cause of those problems is if you have made many adjustments all at once.
A Combine Works Well With Correctly Adjusted Parts
Remember that your main goal is to harvest grain cleanly and efficiently and minimize loss. To do this, you need to have all of these parts:
- Cutting Platform
- Feeder House
- Threshing Mechanism
- Cleaning Shoe
… all working together in perfect synchronization. This will have to be done under a wide variety of different conditions, and you’ll need to be able to make effective adjustments to this end.
For example, when the weather conditions change, you will face a new challenge no matter how well your combine has been working, you may need to make adjustments to maximize performance.
Inclement weather can crush your crop, and you’ll need to be able to assess the damage to determine whether you should even bother harvesting it.
Keep Safety At The Forefront!
No matter what the circumstance or condition, you should always strive to determine the best course of action to ensure maximum safety and avoid accidents. To do this, you’ll need to understand the type and condition of your crop, be intimately familiar with your equipment and be realistic about your own limitations.
All of this knowledge combines to get the best performance from your equipment and yield the greatest crop. By the way, we have more articles on this topic on our website.
Why don’t you look at the following one explaining differences between forage and combine harvesters, or this one about farm trucks?