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Crop Catcher reduces combine header losses

A shield designed to fit on a combine feeder house minimizes header losses, especially in canola fields

A couple of years ago, Karl Koch, a grain grower at Marsden, Sask., noticed he had a problem with his combine. Kernels were being thrown over top of the feeder house by the header auger as he harvested canola.

“Dad and I thought we were losing a lot canola over the front end,” he says. To get a handle on exactly how big the problem was, he decided to capture those lost kernels and measure how much crop he was losing.

“Last fall we put a piece of plywood across the feeder house and weighed what we caught,” he explains. “We were losing about a quarter of a bushel per acre.” With the current high price of canola, that amounts to a lot of lost income after a day of harvesting.

In an effort to eliminate the problem, Koch fabricated a shield and mounted it above the entrance to the feeder house, creating a barrier to block kernels from being thrown out of the header and keep them feeding into the combine with the rest of the crop. The idea worked. Now his farm-shop invention has the trade name Crop Catcher, and it’s being marketed commercially.

“He was solving an age-old problem,” says Brad Michels of Michels Industries Ltd. “The retractable fingers from the header auger create a lot of threshing and spits the seeds out on top of the feeder house. What (Crop Catcher) does is keep everything in the header. (The problem) is mainly in canola, but it does work with any grain.”

Michels Industries has recently started manufacturing and marketing Koch’s invention under licence. “We worked with him (Koch) to make a few improvements and streamline it a little bit,” says Michels. “We also made it adjustable. There have been quite a few different prototypes, but now we have it ready.”

Using a shaped piece of clear Lexan, the Crop Catcher eliminates the loss problem without obstructing the operator’s view of the header. “It’s not like plexiglass and won’t yellow after a year,” says Michels. “It’s built for years of service.”

Installation is a simple procedure, which only requires drilling eight holes for self-threading bolts. Crop Catcher retails for $849 and is available through most farm equipment dealers. Available in four different colours, it will nicely match the paint on most combines. “It really is a pay-for-itself item,” says Michels.

The company began its marketing efforts by showing the Crop Catcher at Manitoba Ag Days in Brandon and Crop Production Week in Saskatoon this past winter. The initial response was better than expected, and the first production run sold out almost immediately. As a result, Michels has stepped up production and once again has Crop Catchers in stock and ready for immediate delivery.

For more information see www.michels.ca. †

About the author

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Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.

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