In the sixth installment of our Agronomic Design principles blog series, we’re talking about what farmers can do to reduce harvest loss.
What are you doing on your farm to try to reduce harvest loss?
Dr. Mark Hanna, Iowa State University Extension Agricultural Engineer, says producers should lose no more than 1 bushel of corn per acre each harvest. However, he says some producers are seeing losses of 3-4 bushels per acre, which can have significant impacts.
“It may not sound like much, but when you start to look at grain prices, even today’s corn prices, you’re harvesting maybe 10-12 acres an hour, something like that, when you combine, and that can add up,” Hanna says. “We’re leaving maybe 35-40 bushels of grain in the field and on a per-hour basis. The cost of that grain you’re leaving out in the field often rivals the cost of the whole harvest operation.”
Hanna says your equipment plays a big role in overcoming harvesting challenges.
“Today, we have a number of different features on machines that allow operators to make adjustments on the go. Being familiar with those adjustments and how to manage them is critical to make sure you minimize losses in the field and maintain the appropriate grain quality in your grain tank,” he says.
Case IH Combine Product Specialist Terry Snack says the new Case IH 4400 series corn header and the Case IH Axial-Flow® combine are designed to make saving grain easy.
“Built based on Agronomic Design principles, our combines and headers simplify harvest to make the operator and the machine more productive, preventing grain loss, preserving grain quality and improving return on investment,” says Snack.
For example, the industry-exclusive Case IH automatic header-to-ground-speed feature saves ears and loose kernels by automatically matching the feeder and header speeds with the ground speed. Corn-saving louvers and large-diameter stalk rolls on the new Case IH corn heads maximize efficiency.
“Our new heads match capacity by providing uniform flow both in and out of our Axial-Flow combines,” says Snack. “Cleaner picking keeps unwanted material out of the combine. This also allows for faster ground speeds and more acres per hour, increasing productivity.”
As the grain moves into the rotor cage, gentle grain-on-grain threshing becomes an important factor in maintaining grain quality.
“You’re looking for cracks in seed coats or excessive damage,” says Hanna. “It’s important to keep the machine fully loaded to get more crop-on-crop threshing.”