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Houston Seed Saver minimizes header losses

When Bill Houston set up the exhibit for his invention, the Houston Seed Saver, at Manitoba Ag Days in Brandon, he chose to display a couple of telling photos. One picture showed the top of a combine feeder house covered with chaff. The caption claimed the accumulation reached that level after only six hours of normal harvesting. The second picture was of a combine that had been working with a Houston SeedSaver (HSS) attached to the header. This time the feeder house was completely clean.

“That’s after 36 separator hours,” proclaims Houston as a couple of show goers study the second image. “It’s never been cleaned, swept or blown. That’s how they stay (with an HSS installed).”

Houston SeedSaver

The HSS is a shield designed primarily to prevent seed loss over the back of the header. To keep kernels from being flung out over the header by the auger fingers, the HSS hangs forward overtop of the feeder house intake. Its design allows it to lay horizontally, suspended over top of the header auger, but the operator’s view isn’t obstructed by it, because the HSS is made of clear Margard (coated Lexan) in an aluminum frame. Houston says the Margard won’t discolour over time.

Along with keeping kernels and chaff contained in the header, the HSS helps minimize dust too.

“I asked guys who have this system what they like best about,” he continues. “They say the (lack of) dust.” Preventing dust from blowing up over the header keeps the cab windshield cleaner, making frequent stops during the day to wash the windshield unnecessary.

Design of the HSS is relatively simple. It’s made of an aluminum frame that supports the clear Margard panel, and it can be attached to any brand of combine. “It fits any head on the market,” says Houston. “The belting is the key to it. The belting seals it to the table along the back and we drop belting in the front, because so much seed gets shot forward off those fingers. Now we’re containing all that seed loss under the panel — and all the dust generated by that auger. So we eliminate the dust and we eliminate the seed loss.”

Getting the HSS installed on a combine is just a matter of drilling a few bolt holes in the top of the rear header rail and mounting it with the supplied hardware.

Houston says another benefit of the HSS is it speeds up the process of reversing a plugged feeder house on some combines. It helps prevent the crop mat from being drawn back into the feeder house by giving the header auger a better chance to grab the plug and pull it away. “With the panel system on, the material pushes up the panel but there is enough weight on it that it gives the auger flighting a chance to grab (the crop).” he says. “Nine out of ten times with your first go on the reverser, you’ve got it.”

As Houston discusses his invention with another visitor to his booth, he asks, “What do you think you lose in a 50 K wind with all those pods flying off the top of the swath?” He explains the HSS is especially helpful in limiting losses when combining on very windy days. As it turns out, at least one of his customers has found that to be true.

On-Farm experience

Brad Hanmer, whose family operates Hanmer Seeds Ltd. at Govan, Saskatchewan, confirms that has been their experience. “It prevents swaths from blowing up (off the header) on a windy day,” he says.

The Hanmers have an HSS installed on all their combines, and Brad believes the HSS has provided value for the money by preventing seed loss from the header. Their combine windshields also don’t require cleaning as often as they did when running without it. “We like the product,” he adds. “We run it on all our combines.”

The HSS can be ordered directly from Bill Houston at Southey, Saskatchewan, for $1,250 plus GST and courier costs. “It’s all aluminum construction to save weight during shipping,” He explains. “They come in a box 52x32x7 (inches). They weigh 81 pounds, boxed, so the bus or courier has no problem handling them.

For more information or to order an HSS, contact Bill Houston at 306-726-5788 or email him at [email protected]

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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