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Posts Tagged With: combine

Not Your Grandpa’s Combine

There is so much more to farming than you’d ever think.  I’ve been here for eleven years and I’m still amazed.  Last week I had a great time visiting a neighbor’s farm to see how they calibrate their combine monitor for accurate harvest data– and believe me, this is not your Grandpa’s combine!

There is so much to harvest! Here a farmer calibrates his combine's monitor for accurate data.

A combine’s monitor senses the grain coming in and records how much is being harvested.  This lets you know right then how well the field did.  On Bray Farms, Brad used this field to test two different brands of seed, filling half his planter with each type.  Now as he harvests he can see exactly how well each brand did.

That is, he can see exactly if his monitor is working correctly.

There is so much to harvest! Here a farmer calibrates his combine's monitor for accurate data.

To calibrate the combine’s monitor Brad first harvests a small sample of corn.

There is so much to harvest! Here a farmer calibrates his combine's monitor for accurate data.

He gets a reading from the monitor,

There is so much to harvest! Here a farmer calibrates his combine's monitor for accurate data.

and then unloads the corn into a weigh wagon equiped with scales.

There is so much to harvest! Here a farmer calibrates his combine's monitor for accurate data.

This wagon belongs to Cory Robinson of CR Seeds & Services.  He’ll be busy this fall taking it to many farm fields to calibrate monitors and checking to see if the seed he sold is working well for his customers.

There is so much to harvest! Here a farmer calibrates his combine's monitor for accurate data.

Now the wagon weighs the corn as well.

There is so much to harvest! Here a farmer calibrates his combine's monitor for accurate data.

And Cory will check the grain for a few other things while he’s at it.

There is so much to harvest! Here a farmer calibrates his combine's monitor for accurate data.

This tests the percentage of moisture in the corn.  Usually the places you sell corn to want “dry” corn, about 15%.  Brad’s was measuring closer to 19%, which means he’ll need to dry it before it can be sold.  As fall progresses the corn will dry out in the field and less air drying will be necessary.

There is so much to harvest! Here a farmer calibrates his combine's monitor for accurate data.

Cory also uses this little thingamajig (technical term) to find the test weight of the corn– also important when you sell the grain.  Once the tests are done Cory unloads his weigh wagon back onto Brad’s semis, which take the grain back to the dryer.

There is so much to harvest! Here a farmer calibrates his combine's monitor for accurate data.

There is so much to harvest! Here a farmer calibrates his combine's monitor for accurate data.

Then Cory gives Brad the numbers to put into the combine’s monitor.

There is so much to harvest! Here a farmer calibrates his combine's monitor for accurate data.

Look at the last line.  The second column tells what the combine believes the total weight of the load to be. A simple click to the third column allows Brad to input the weigh wagon’s results.

There is so much to harvest! Here a farmer calibrates his combine's monitor for accurate data.

And the monitor will calibrate itself in just a moment to give you the most correct results.

There is so much to harvest! Here a farmer calibrates his combine's monitor for accurate data.

This was Brad’s third test (bottom three rows– top two are from 2014) and the total was 3 pounds off– 0.0%.  The monitor will retroactively change the data from whatever has already been harvested and Brad will have accurate maps he can use to submit to his insurance agent (insurance is based on a five year average for a field), use to plan how much grain to sell, and compare to his planting or fertilizer maps to see what seed is working well and what nutrients the crop may need.

This modern world of agriculture is pretty cool.

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Categories: Farming | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

When is An Inch of Rain Welcome in September?

Rain during spring planting can be looked on as a good thing; rain is necessary for crops to grow. But rain during harvest?  All it does is slow you down.

So when is an inch of rain a welcome blessing in September?

When the combine runs a board through the head while driving through the field and you have to tear the whole thing apart to fix it.

Rain 3

When the part you need to fix the combine head has to be shipped from three states away.

When your farmer signs up for professional development programs and must travel to D.C. during prime harvest time.

Rain 2

When you really, really, really need someone to fix the dishwasher.

When you really, really, really need someone to wrangle the kids.

When we’re all tired of family dinners consisting of Subway sandwiches at the edge of a field.

Rain 1

When the average amount of sleep you’re farmer has had per night is less than the number of days since you saw him last.

When God sends the rain and there’s nothing you can do about it anyway!

Categories: Family, Farming | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Picture A Modern Farmer

The AgWired team has been busy at the Farm Progress Show, so I’ve been reading, writing, and posting lots of information about everything new in agriculture.  I’ve been wading through information about ag app developers, tweeting John Deere’s newest tractor capabilities, and watching drones take flight.  Which got me thinking.

Despite being eighty-five years old, American Gothic is too often the picture that comes to mind when you mention “farmer.”

Grant_Wood_-_American_Gothic_-_Google_Art_Project

It would be harder to find something farther from the truth.  In fact, today’s farmers use as much technology as anyone in Silicon Valley.  Let me try to paint that picture for you.

We call it “precision farming.”  First, you might hire a company to come to your field and mark it off in a grid.  A bit of soil is taken from every square on the grid, carefully recorded and tracked.  These soil samples are then sent to a science lab and tested.

A picture of today's modern farmer

It’s then possible to take the maps with those results and upload them to a device in your tractor.  The right kind of equipment can read those maps as the tractor drives through the field and make changes in the amount of fertilizer placed in each grid square so you put on exactly what is needed.  The same idea can happen as you’re planting– putting more seeds in good soil and fewer on thinner ground.

GPS and auto-steer mean the tractor can drive along its path by satellite, with less than one inch of error along the way.  GPS also lets the planter know where it’s been and each row can shut off as the equipment drives over a spot that has already been planted.  Expect the same for the machine that sprays crop protection products over the field.  Automatic shut-off means no waste, no excess.

planter

As the plants grow, farmers can now keep a watchful eye on disease and pests that might ruin a crop with the use of an Unmanned Ariel Vehicle (UAV) or drone.  Or a livestock farmer may use a drone to check cattle grazing on large acreages.

drone

Monitors right in the field can let a farmer know when an irrigation system needs to be turned on, most likely through an alert on his phone.  The farmer can often turn the water on from his phone too.  Fruit and tree growers have access to the same smartphone technology to alert for frost, and animal farmers can check their barns while sitting at a soccer game.

And then there’s harvest.  Combines create maps as they move across the field, recording the yield as it goes along.  These maps can be overlaid with spring planting maps for even more information.  All of that may be tracked with another app from a smartphone.

Modern agriculture is a long way from pitchforks and overalls.

Categories: Farming, Technology | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

View From the Combine’s Seat

Sure, many crops are harvested in the summer, but for corn and soybean farmers pulling the combine out of the shed conjures thought of apples and pumpkins, chilly nights and football games.  Not so with wheat harvest.

Wheat harvest-- pictures from the combine's seat.

We have been planting a small percentage of our acres to wheat over the past few years to help build terraces.  Summer is the time to take the bulldozer out to the fields to fix any damage done by torrential rains or the effects of time.  That doesn’t work so well if you’ve got crops growing in those fields, so we started growing wheat because the late June/early July harvest window means time to work on our soil conservation efforts.

Wheat harvest-- pictures from the combine's seat.

For those who are new, I love growing wheat.  It’s the first thing to green up after a long winter and it’s beautiful in all it’s growing stages.

This year, however, I thought instead of snapping my usual photos I’d ask Wayne to take some shots from his place in the driver’s seat.

Wheat harvest-- pictures from the combine's seat.

How’s that for a workplace view?

Categories: Farming | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Have Combine, Will Travel

You are probably used to seeing pictures of combines looking like this: happily harvesting through fields with the sun setting in the background.

How a harvest crew travels!  {DaddysTractor.com}

I posted this pic to Instagram. For more day to day farm life follow me @daddystractor!

And while this is a good look for a combine, it’s a bit overdressed for traveling.

Traveling with a harvest operation can be a BIG DEAL.  You’ve got to move the cart, the semis, the fuel trailer, the combine, and the head wagon down roads lined with overgrown tree branches, mailboxes and telephone poles.  When this bad boy heads for the highway its tires can touch from one white line to the other.  But that’s just the combine.

The head (on our combine) is much broader than the combine itself.  In fact, it’s actually 35 feet wide!  So before heading off into the sunset the head must be removed and loaded onto a wagon.

How a combine travels down the road!  {DaddysTractor.com}

 

This is best done with at least two, if not three people.  Here you see Wayne (the newest addition to the farm) helping direct Grandpa to line the grain head up with the wagon.  Cory is on the other side doing the same.

How a combine travels down the road!  {DaddysTractor.com}

When the head is properly lined up Grandpa can set it down and release it from the combine.

How a combine travels down the road!  {DaddysTractor.com}

Then the truck can pull the head wagon down the road.

have combine, will travel

Looks a bit different, don’t you agree!

How a combine travels down the road!  {DaddysTractor.com}

It’ll still be a task to maneuver this massive piece of equipment down the road, but at least we won’t take out every mailbox between here and the next farm!

Categories: Science | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

Did You Know? Fueling a Combine

There are several reason you won’t see this at your local Casey’s.  Um, very often.

Fueling the combine {DaddysTractor.com}

Obviously, most gas stations have a shelter over the pumps that would seriously get in the way of a piece of equipment this size.  And gas stations tend to be either in towns or along highways and not convenient to slow moving vehicles in fields in remote locations.

So how do you fuel all that harvest equipment?

With your own fuel tank.

Fueling the combine {DaddysTractor.com}

Our farm has those giant fuel barrels filed with dyed fuel (for farm vehicles only), but they stay at the farm’s home base.  This trailer is a newly-traded addition to Daddy’s collection which allows him to haul fuel right to the combine.

So much easier than pulling up to the pump at Quick Trip!!

This trailer has two pumps, just like the ones you’d use to fuel your car– except at little bigger. 😉  They wind up on a hose reel, which is what you see in the photo above.

Fueling the combine {DaddysTractor.com}

The tanks are in the rear of the combine and you have to pull the hoses up the ladder to reach them.  And while some pieces of farm equipment (semis) actually have two diesel tanks, that’s not why you see two hoses in these pictures.

The second, smaller, hose actually fills the combine with something called DEF.  This fluid is the secret to making our red equipment environmentally green. 

(If you’re interested in learning how this combine is reducing emissions into the air, try this previous post.) 

{DaddysTractor.com}

So now you know.  This is why you won’t see tractors or combines in line at the local Conoco.  Very often…

Categories: Science, Technology | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Preparing for Harvest

Can you feel it?  Smell it?  I’m even beginning to see it.  That unquantifiable element that is fall.  Everyone is pinning pumpkin recipes and buying apple butter at farm stands.  I’m putting off my fall cleaning until, well, maybe spring…  I love living where the seasons change and in one of those inexplicable phenomenons, the upcoming season is usually my favorite.  But who doesn’t love fall?!

Unlike me, the farmers in my family love fall best all year long.  Because fall means harvest.

Preparing for harvest  {DaddysTractor.com}

Brett especially looks forward to harvest all year.  It means long days in the combine –and snacks from Daddy’s magical lunchbox!  He’s so excited about it, in fact, that he begged to help wash the combine like our hired hand, Cory, was doing.  Daddy said he was actually a big help and really did a good job getting the dirt and grime off of the equipment.

Today Daddy will run the combine on the field next to the shed to get the engine hot enough to change oil and hydraulic oil and maybe calibrate the combine to correctly calculate yield.  He’ll set up the monitors, resupply the tool boxes, check the air conditioner, and any other of a thousand odd jobs that are involved in preparing for harvest.

Then tomorrow we begin!

Categories: Technology | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

A Day at the Farm

So much fun!  Our weekend adventure of harvesting wheat and learning about where the ingredients in our pizza come from was a HUGE success!  Thanks so much to the Brays for hosting this awesome event; their farm was perfect.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

FSA brought coloring books and rulers.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Our Farm Bureau agent helped kids plant their own seeds.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

This is me, showing how the harvested wheat is turned into flour.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Grinding wheat with electricity was much easier than doing it by hand!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

These are beef cows for the hamburger toppings!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

And Nubian milk goats for making the mozzarella cheese.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

There was a straw maze.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

The sensory bin filled with wheat to play in!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Riding in the combine was probably the best part!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Caroline waits for her turn to ride and sports a “Thank a Farmer” sticker!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Finally, its Carson’s turn!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Is this machine way cool or what?!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

The stalks from the wheat are baled into straw. These huge bales are being sold to the highway dept. to be used to keep dirt in place while workers fix roads.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

All right, maybe the pizza was the best part! Yummy!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Pepperoni comes from hogs!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Lovin’ the cheese!

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tomorrow’s the Big Day!

Ready to find out Where Your Pizza Comes From?!  Tomorrow’s the Big Day– combine rides, hay bales to climb on, and FREE PIZZA!

Come on out any time between 9:00-1:00 to the Bray Farm.  The weather looks GREAT for our event.  Since some of you may be wondering, yes, Brad and Minnie Bray welcomed a sweet baby girl last night (an Independence Day baby!) but we are all set to celebrate their new addition and combine their wheat for them! 😉  We can’t wait to see you!

Wheat Harvest

Directions to the Brays farm:

From the South:

From US Hwy 36 and Hwy 69 in Cameron: North on 69 1 mile.  69 Hwy curves right and EE blacktop forks off straight North.  Take EE 6 miles.  At 6 mile point EE curves right and Willow forks off straight North.  Take Willow Road North 1/2 mile and then curves to the left.  Continue on Willow for 2 miles until you get to Irwin.  On Irwin go 1/4 mile and arrive at 2966 SE Irwin Rd., Cameron MO 64429.  Enter at the 2nd Driveway.

From the North:

From Hwy 6 from Mayville going East to Weatherby: Take Irwin Rd. South (Irwin is the first gravel road west of Weatherby).  Go 2 1/2 miles to Valley.  Go right (west) on Valley 1/2 mils to Irwin.  Go left (south) on Irwin 1/2 mile to 2966 SE Irwin Rd., Cameron MO 64429.

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Its Almost Here! Where Does Your Pizza Come From Field Trip

It’s almost here!  The “Where Does Your Pizza Come From?” field trip is next Saturday, July 6th from 9:00-1:00 at the Bray Farm.  There will be goats to milk, a tractor to “drive,” wheat to grind, hay bales to climb, and a combine to ride!  The events scheduled are aimed at children entereing 2-6th grades, but this will be fun for the whole family!

And if that weren’t enough, there will be free pizza!

harvesting wheat

Directions to the Brays farm:

From the South:

From US Hwy 36 and Hwy 69 in Cameron: North on 69 1 mile.  69 Hwy curves right and EE blacktop forks off straight North.  Take EE 6 miles.  At 6 mile point EE curves right and Willow forks off straight North.  Take Willow Road North 1/2 mile and then curves to the left.  Continue on Willow for 2 miles until you get to Irwin.  On Irwin go 1/4 mile and arrive at 2966 SE Irwin Rd., Cameron MO 64429.  Enter at the 2nd Driveway.

From the North:

From Hwy 6 from Mayville going East to Weatherby: Take Irwin Rd. South (Irwin is the first gravel road west of Weatherby).  Go 2 1/2 miles to Valley.  Go right (west) on Valley 1/2 mils to Irwin.  Go left (south) on Irwin 1/2 mile to 2966 SE Irwin Rd., Cameron MO 64429.

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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