You can depend on farmers to come up with innovative solutions to vexing problems that were either overlooked at the factory or were not deemed practical or necessary on the engineering desk. Countless inventions have made machinery operation safer, easier and more effective in the past, and I am quite sure that trend will continue into the future. In this article I am going to feature three inventions that have contributed to making harvesting easier for the operator.
If you have operated a combine, you are well aware of the dust created when harvesting almost any crop. Dust, chaff and airborne debris are especially problematic when it obscures the operator’s vision.
Some combines are worse than others, and the John Deere 9000 Series seems to fit into this category. There are different variations on feederhouse generated dust control solutions, but the Turbo Tube built by Elkhorn Industries (visit www.frontiernet.net/~elkhorn/orphone 515-576-4500) and Johnson’s Feederhouse Dust Diverter (www.wajohnson.comor 502-266-7177) are the manufacturers I am most familiar with. They seem to have been most successful at marketing a product that is readily available, straight forward to install and that works well.
The units are hydraulically driven. The reel drive circuit provides ample oil to run the dust diverters, which require eight gpm. Price for each unit runs in the $2,000 to $3,000 range. They are available to fit other makes and models by special order.
John Deere has a factory dust remover available for the 9410, 9510 and 9610 combines. The parts to install cost approximately $6,000 and require a considerable amount of work to mount in the feeder house.
2. POLY SKID PLATES
Skid plates for straight cut headers have been around for many years, but they make harvesting peas, lentils or any low to the ground crop much easier. Poly skid plates are custom manufactured to fit most makes, models and sizes of headers. They are mostly used on flex headers and draper headers for close to the ground or on the ground operation.
Most OEM equipment dealers have these skid shoes available, and there are also numerous aftermarket manufacturers such as Maljohn Plastics or May Wes Manufacturing. Google is a great tool to use to find manufacturers, distributors or dealers for these or any other aftermarket products.
3. CUTTING HEIGHT GAUGE
I will finish with a very simple, inexpensive innovation that I have seen on many combines and swathers. It is the Lokken cutting height gauge. The mechanically operated gauge connects to the feeder house of the combine or table of the swather. A gauge inside the cab gives easily read measurements starting at four inches and goes up to 20 inches of stubble left standing. The units sell for less than $150 and take one hour to install.
Many new combines and swathers have header height controls and indicators to let the operator know the height of their header, but this unit is so simple, failsafe and inexpensive that it makes sense for most combines and swathers. For more information
on the gauge, go to www.lokken.ca.
Charlie Smith owns Combine World in Allan, Sask. For feedback on this article or questions about combines in general, you can contact him at [email protected]or at 1-800-667-4515.