While there are many options when it comes time to harvest a crop, for some farmers, stripper headers are the only choice. Designed with rotating teeth that lift grain into the combine and leave straw in the field, stripper headers are perfect for harvesting cereals, grass seed and rice, according to Adam Whitaker, product specialist at the U.K.-based manufacturer Shelbourne Reynolds, noting it is very popular in drier regions.
Whitaker, who was at the Shelbourne Reynolds display at the Agritechnica machinery show in Germany last November, explained how the stripper header works and what advantages it offers.
Stripper headers have a rearward-rotating rotor fitted in front of the header. The rotor has eight rows of stripping fingers that strip grain from the crop. As the combine moves the head forward, the rotor spins backwards. Stripped grain is moved into a conventional auger and pan by a series of deflectors.
“The rotor spins in an upward direction, so it’s actually combing through the crop and stripping the grain off the heads, leaving the straw behind as it goes,” Whitaker explained. “It runs at 600 to 650 rpm.”
Benefits include increased harvest capacity, energy savings and improved soil conditions. “You increase harvesting capacity because you’re not processing tonnes of straw,” said Whitaker.
“But it also leaves all of the straw standing, so it provides a good no-till environment,” he continued. “If you’re looking to retain moisture and catch snow, then that standing straw helps with that. It works very well in a no-till program in areas that typically have low rainfall.”
Alberta grain farmer Kevin Auch agrees. He’s has been in no-till since 1998 and adopted the stripper header a few years ago after seeing his neighbor using it on his farm. Auch grows 5,700 acres wheat, durum and barley, as well as yellow peas and canola. He says the stripper header is a good fit on his farm because he’s got sandier soils that don’t hold water well, which makes them subject to erosion.
“Anything we can do to help hold that water in the soil is a good thing for productivity,” he said. “With our stripper header we leave all that stubble on the ground, which keeps the wind and the sun off the soil.”
Auch said other benefits include ease of use, quicker harvest times and lower energy consumption. “You can harvest faster because you’re not taking whole plants in,” he said. “You do more acres per hour, so that’s definitely an advantage. And then when you’re doing that, you’re burning less fuel per acre.”
Ultimately, Auch feels the stripper header has improved his crops, mostly because of improved moisture.
“I don’t think I’d ever want to go back to the old way that our fathers and grandfathers farmed,” he said. “I think it’s better for everything – bottom line, production, the environment.”