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Ensure a Successful Harvest with a Combine Checkup

If you want to reduce your labor and machinery parts costs, keep your harvest as close to schedule as possible, and increase your yield per acre, make it a priority to conduct a detailed inspection of your combine prior to harvest season.

Safe operation during harvest depends partially on preharvest preparation of the combine,” explains Oklahoma State University agricultural engineer Randy Taylor. “Combine preparation should begin several weeks before harvest to allow necessary lead time to secure needed replacement parts and to efficiently prepare the combine for harvest. It’s also an effective way to reduce possible breakdowns during harvest.”

Taylor also recommends that all combine operators, regardless of experience level, take the time to thoroughly review the manual for their combines. “The owner’s manual contains a service or maintenance checklist or guide to keep machines well maintained,” he states.

The manual will give combine operators a good review of the safety precautions and operating instructions for their particular equipment.

Any combine checkup prior to harvest must incorporate several important steps, which can detect potential safety issues as well as improve the efficiency of the combine. These steps include:

  • Carefully checking for missing or loose screws, nuts, sheet metal, and shields. Any missing or loose hardware should be replaced or tightened, in order to avoid breakdowns. This also may prevent accidents and save time and money at harvest time.

  • Inspecting all chains, bearings, belts, and all other drive components. Make sure to replace any parts that show evidence of wear – loose or worn sprockets and chains, sloppy bearings, frayed belts, etc. – that are likely not to last for the entire harvest season.

  • Cleaning the combine thoroughly, removing any rodent nests, oil or grease buildup, and any field trash.

  • Examining the auger spirals; cutter bars, to assure that they have the necessary movement and flexibility; skid plates under the grain elevator; headers for proper ear savers; the grain platform, for knife wear and sharpness; and any other parts to detect wear and tear.

  • Calibrating technology-based equipment such as yield monitors, GPS guidance systems, and other components, to make sure they are providing accurate data.

Naturally, some repairs may be needed during the harvest season, and care should be taken to do so safely. Combine operators should regularly inspect the hydraulic system and fix any loose connections or leaky hoses right away.

Finally, when refueling, it is critical to take the necessary steps to prevent explosions or fire:

  • Make sure to have the appropriate Class B fire extinguisher nearby, which is specifically for use with fires involving gasoline, oil, grease, and other petroleum products.

  • Wait a few minutes for any spilled fuel to evaporate before restarting the combine’s engine.

  • Give the combine’s engine 8-10 minutes to cool before refueling, so as to lessen the likelihood of any gasoline vapors igniting.

Keep in mind that you want your combine to be as safe as it is efficient. Your preharvest checkup can not only help prevent kernel losses but also give you a bountiful and safe harvest time.

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