The majority of the working population has worked in the agricultural sector for the longest time in human history. As technologies started to emerge in the 1900s to lessen the dependency of the agricultural sector on the workforce, this trend was seen as having turned. Agriculture was practiced by nearly 12 million Americans in 1900, but only 1.92 million did so in 2010.
In today’s developed countries, agriculture has been largely modernized. This is down to the advent of important tools and machines that include the likes of the combine.
A combine, short for combine harvester, is a large-scale automated machine that helps to improve the productivity of agricultural workers. It is mainly employed to efficiently harvest enormous quantities of a variety of grains, greatly reducing the taxing workloads endured by farmers. The machine’s name derives from its capacity to combine the three main harvesting functions.
The details of combines used in agriculture are discussed in the article that follows, along with a breakdown of all the advantages they have for various farming systems.
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Table of Contents
What Is A Combine?
The most common name for a combine harvester is simply a combine. With the help of this sizable farm machine, you can harvest, thresh, and clean crops all at once. Waste straw is left on the ground by the machine.
In 1836, Michigan saw the introduction of the first horse-drawn combines. California saw their subsequent use. The development of tractor-drawn models began in the 1930s, and the introduction of self-propelled models occurred in the 1950s.
Because they could slash large swaths of grains from 8 to 18 feet, the self-propelled combines quickly gained popularity. As a result, grain harvesting was greatly accelerated and made more effective.
Combiners were initially only intended to be used to harvest wheat, but as time went on and more advancements were made, they started to be used to harvest a variety of crops.
The majority of people in the US were employed as farm laborers who manually harvested crops prior to the invention of the combine.
By combining the numerous steps required to harvest a crop, separate the grain from the plant, and carry out the numerous other tasks required to bring the crops in from the field and prepare them for use, combine harvesters freed up these workers.
How Does It Work?
- The header cuts off the plant close to the ground and moves it into the machine. Depending on whether they are harvesting corn, soybeans, or other crops, farmers change the header.
- The cut crops move toward the center via spinning augers and travel up a conveyor.
- The threshing segment of the combine beats the cut crops to break and shake the grains away from their stalks.
- The separated grains travel by conveyor into a grain tank. As more grain falls through into the tank, the unwanted stalks, husks, cobs, and/or pieces of leaves, also known as chaff or residue, move along various conveyors.
- A tractor pulling a grain cart along the back pulls next to the combine once the grain tank is full. The grain is carried up from the tank by an elevator and shoots out of a side pipe, or unloader, into the grain cart.
- The leftover material leaves the machine through the back, where it can either be spread over a large area or baled into straw for use as animal bedding. Most machines use a straw chopper to make it smaller and more manageable.
The Different Types Of A Combine Farm Harvester
Depending on the type of crops being harvested, the dynamics and design of a combine tend to change. The farmers’ workload can be reduced by using the interchangeable header option available on modern combines. The storage of separated grains in a grain tank may be one of them. The grain tank also makes harvesting easier for farmers.
Depending on the harvest season, certain grain crops are harvested with self-propelled combines, while other crops require specific harvesters for each crop. A different kind of machine than a cotton or straw chopper is used to harvest corn.
Corn Combine Harvester
For the purpose of harvesting corn cobs, combines with corn headers are used. To make it simple to harvest corn plants, they rely on the use of large, robust prongs. The corn combine should have a corn header, which must be kept in good working order because a worn corn header is the main culprit in grain falls, which can result in the loss of up to 60% of the harvest crops.
Cotton Combine Harvester
To harvest delicate crops like cotton, a unique combine harvester model is also required. An illustration of a cotton combine harvester would be a vehicle with a combine harvester in the front and a hay bailer at the back.
The main distinction is that cotton harvesters will roll the cotton into enormous bales, in contrast to traditional combine harvesters that spray the grain. The cotton in these bales is then protected by plastic wrapping. The bale is automatically discharged into the field behind the combine once it has been properly packed and prepared.
Different Combine Heads Handle Different Crops
Depending on the type of grain you are harvesting, different types of combine heads can be switched out.
Grain platform or platform header are other names for this. The cut crop falls onto the head thanks to a reciprocating knife cutter bar and a rotating reel with metal or plastic teeth on this kind of header. A cross auger is then used to feed the crop into the machine’s throat at this point.
Numerous crops, including grains and legumes, are grown using this simple header.
This type of header is comparable, but the reel lacks teeth. Due to the fact that they substitute fabric or rubber aprons for the cross auger, wheat headers are also known as draper headers.
More quickly than cross augers, the draper header enables the feeding of the grain. As a result, the yield increases and more grain is fed through the machinery. Nevertheless, standard platform headers rather than wheat headers are occasionally used in events for straightforward cost-saving measures.
Additionally called pickup headers, these are. Crops that have been precut and arranged in swathes or windrows are suitable for this type of header. In Canada and other recent northern locations, this type of header is most frequently used.
While a standard grain header can be used for corn, a dedicated corn header reduces waste. Snap rolls on this kind of header are made specifically for removing the leaves and stalk from the ear.
Less material is forced down the throat as a result of this. Only the corn husk needs to be separated from the ear. The points in the header between each row identify the corn as an ear.
Row crop heads that are used to harvest small grains can also have points of this kind. The weed seeds that are picked up during harvesting are lessened as a result of the points.
When operating on a steep hillside, this kind of technology is utilized to level the equipment. Side-hill leveling technology, created by John Deere, Case IH, and Gleaner, enables effective operation on hillsides with as much as a 50% slope.
This is a good thing because without it, the machine would lean, causing the grain and the chaff to slide to one side and be ejected together in a big ball rather than being effectively separated.
In addition, side-hill leveling has a safety feature that prevents the heavy equipment from toppling. Despite the fact that this kind of technology is excellent, combines have grown even bigger and wider than they were in the past, so they are less frequently used today. Because of their width, they can’t tip over or become unlevel.
The Benefits Of Combine Harvesters
As you might expect, using a combine harvester as a farmer has many benefits. Some of the major benefits include:
- Combine harvesters contribute to a significant reduction in the amount of labor needed during harvest.
- These machines are incredibly efficient, and they can quickly combine different harvesting process segments.
- Despite the fact that combine harvesters are expensive, they are frequently viewed as a one-time fixed investment that lessens the long-term strain on farmers’ finances.
- By altering the headers according to the crops being harvested in the field, it is possible to increase the machine’s adaptability.
- To avoid the need for manual processing, harvesters cut crops, prepare them, and streamline the entire harvesting process. For crops with brief harvesting seasons, this is especially beneficial.
- Uneven terrain poses no obstacles for harvesters, who can move over it easily and process crops quickly.
The Process Of Threshing
The process of threshing has remained largely unchanged since the invention of this piece of large machinery, despite the fact that combine design has undergone significant mechanical and technological advancements.
The crop is cut by the header, which then feeds it into the threshing cylinder. The threshing cylinder is made of horizontal rasp bars that are fixed across the crop’s path and direct the crop upward through a 90° turn.
After that, rub bars or moving rasp bars continue to pull the crop through concave grates that separate the grain from the chaff and straw. The grain heads then drop onto sieves through fixed concaves. The straw is discharged onto straw walkers over the concave’s top.
Usually, there are two sieves with one of them sitting on top of the other. Each is a flat metal plate with holes that are positioned in accordance with grain size. The mounting for the vibrating sieves is oblique. The top sieve typically has larger holes than the bottom sieve, allowing for a more thorough separation of debris from grain.
Weed seeds, crop seeds, and chaff fall into the second sieve as the straw is transported out the back of the device. Crop seeds and chaff now both slip through and get blown away by a fan. Following that, crop is transported into the elevator and then into the hopper.
Correctly setting the concave clearance, fan speed, and sieve size are essential for effective separation. This might entail making adjustments all throughout the harvest to take into account the uneven ground and various other variable factors.
Heavy objects (like rocks) are blown out the back of the machine along with the straw. on threshed heads) fall off the front of the seives and go back through the concave to be rethreshed.
The straw walkers are located above the sieves. These have openings so that any stray grains can fall back through and into the top sieve.
The straw comes out of the back of the combine at the end of the process. At this point, it can either be bailed up and used as cattle bedding or it can be applied to the ground using rotating straw spreaders as a mulch and soil conditioner.
Combine To Excel
Agriculture is a long-standing practice, but in the modern era, it has undergone significant changes. Farming has become less demanding and labor-intensive thanks to the development of impressive machinery like combine harvesters and the advancement of technology.
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