2015 Pre-Harvest Tips for a Successful Fall Farming Season
With the days getting shorter and the nights colder it’s a good reminder that harvest time will be upon us shortly. It wasn’t long ago the focus was on getting the crops planted, fertilized, and sprayed. Hopefully the hard work is paying off and yields are looking good for the fall.
With cost of inputs remaining high and forecasted crop prices remaining level, it is very crucial to know what practices were successful and which did not have a good return on investment. Most growers that have diverse operations are curious on where the best yields are so they can know which seed, chemicals, and fertilizers worked best for their operation. By having the Ag Leader yield monitoring systems calibrated and ready for fall, growers will be able to know which practices were the most profitable.
For some, fall might seem too far away to think about but it will be here sooner than you know it. We all know how busy fall can be while trying to get into the fields, so we recommend taking a few simple steps before the busy season arrives to prepare for harvest. I will briefly explain how to proceed with taking care of the steps on the check list seen above.
The first 6 steps are getting the display ready and the last 4 steps are pre-season calibrations that we should perform. The first step is to export any existing data to the card, USB, or AgFiniti if there is still data from previous operations. Once that is done, it is very important to make a backup of the display. If the display were to have problems middle of the season, you could get a temporary display with all of your information on it. This process only takes a minute to do. Hopefully there will be no problems, but this minute long process can save a lot of time potentially. If your monitor is not up to date on firmware, we strongly recommend upgrading. For those of you with an Ag Leader® Integra or Versa display, our newest firmware is 6.4. Version 6.4 is available for download here.
Before starting to log data, it will be helpful to bring any existing data from the USB to the computer and clear the storage device once loaded into SMS. The reason it is important to have a clean storage device is because your data files will accumulate over the harvest season. If multiple operations or even seasons are on the storage device, it could be difficult to keep track of them.
Depending on what you use your Ag Leader display for, a new season may need to be created. If harvest is the only function you use your display for, it is likely a new season is needed. If you also plant or any other operation, there is likely a season created. If the Ag Leader Integra or Insight was used for planting, make sure to use the same season because then you can do variety tracking using your planting maps. The list of fields in your operation may also need updated. This may have been done earlier in the year but if not, we recommend updating them before the season starts. Add fields not farmed last year, or clearing out a farm that will not be used this year can also be done at this time. Also, if a combine is being changed from last year, a new configuration needs to be built. When building a configuration, it is important to measure all of the offsets and enter the information accurately. This will guarantee the most accurate mapping.
The last 4 steps are all about are calibration. These calibrations will affect your yield and moisture maps, so they must be done accurately. The first calibration is the Header Calibration. The header calibration determines when the display will stop logging area. When the head reaches its set point, the area count will stop. The set point for the head is crop type specific because different crops are harvested with different heads and at different heights, so calibrate for each crop type.
The next calibration is the Vibration Calibration. When doing the vibration calibration the head needs to be attached to the combine and the separator needs to be on and RPM’s at full throttle. Since different crops use different heads, the vibration calibration is crop specific as well, so multiple calibrations are required for multiple crops. The vibration calibration takes exactly one minute. During that minute the system is recognizing any natural vibrations that is seen by the flow sensor that could be mistaken as grain flow. The vibration calibration is very simple and only takes a minute.
The Temperature Calibration is a one-time calibration that needs to be done before harvest begins. If temperature is calibrated later in the season, it will affect moisture calibration and will skew the data collected, so it is important to do it right away. The temperature reading that the sensor is giving should be close to the actual temperature outside, but may not be exact. All that is needed to do is enter an offset to make the temperature on the display correct. A temperature calibration should be done while temperatures are stable. If the combine has been sitting in the hot sun or operating for a while, it may have a higher temperature that is not ideal for calibration.
The Distance Calibration is the last calibration and step before completing the preseason checklist. The distance calibration is for calculating area accurately. Generally, a GPS receiver displays speed and position, but if GPS is lost, there can still be an accurate acre count by knowing distance traveled and swath width. For the distance calibration, flagging 200 feet and driving the distance is recommended. While driving the distance, the system counts pulses and converts them to feet. If the system says it drove 206 feet and it actually drove 200, enter that information. Repeat the process until it is accurate within a couple feet.
Once completed, your combine should be prepared for harvest. Remember, after beginning harvest, weight and moisture calibration still needs to be done. These are two very important calibrations. Once all the calibrations are complete, the system will be very accurate.
We hope that your hard work and time will be rewarding this harvest season! Remember, if you have any questions you can contact Ag Leader Technical Support at 515-735-7000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.