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Pre-harvest Preparations: Hardware – Part 1

by Sep 8, 2011Displays, Yield Monitoring

Well, it is that time of year again – growers are beginning to pull combines out of the shed and begin preparing for harvest.  Last week, Precision Point included blog posts about preparing your GPS equipment and your SMS Software. Making sure your yield monitor is ready should be a step in this important process as well. 

Yield data is essential to precision agriculture; the data can be used to create variable rate prescriptions, identify spots where tiling may be beneficial, or to make management decisions for the next growing season. Remember, you are not just harvesting your crops anymore – you are also harvesting data.


One of the most important things to remember during harvest is to create a backup of your display. In the event that something would happen to your display, you can restore that backup on another display and be running again in no time.  I would recommend you create a backup at least once a week during harvest, as you never know what could happen out in the field. It is also important to take a few minutes to check the physical components of your yield monitor to ensure the components are working correctly. 

First, remove the flow sensor from the top of the clean grain elevator. The first thing to check is the impact plate, the hard black piece of plastic attached to the flow sensor.  If it is showing signs of wear, it is time to replace it. Next, inspect the area behind the load cell; it should contain a black gel material called potting. It is normal for a few cracks to appear in the potting, but if large portions are missing it will need to be sent in for repair. 

Also, make sure the wiring coming from the flow sensor is in good condition.  If you suspect something is wrong with your flow sensor, contact your local Ag Leader dealer or Ag Leader tech support. Once the flow sensor has been checked, we need to turn our attention to the deflector plate.  It is generally attached to the top of the clean grain elevator. If it is beginning to show signs of wear (ripples or dimples in the steel), it will need to be replaced.

Next, check the elevator paddle clearance; you will need to measure between the top of the elevator paddle and the deflector plate.  It should be between 3/8” to 5/8” on most combines.  The easy way to measure this is a pinky finger.  It should be a pinky width apart.  (Not all combines will meet this specification; refer to your combine’s yield monitor installation instructions, found here, for the correct height.) You will also want to make sure your elevator moisture system is functioning properly. First, you will need to remove the moisture sensor and make sure it is clean.  

Then, while the moisture sensor is out, look up inside the housing where the moisture sensor would normally be; the white piece of plastic is the proximity switch. You can (carefully) stick your hand inside and cover the proximity switch with a finger.  The auger should turn when the proximity switch is covered. If it does not, you will need to adjust the sensitivity of your proximity switch. Now that we have checked the physical components of the yield monitor, we need to run through the preseason calibrations; we will discuss these in Part 2 of the pre-harvest hardware blog posts.