In the Shop
As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.
Prepping Yield Monitors
Sep 07, 2009
Nearly 3/4 of all combines that pass through our shop now have some form of yield monitor in them. To ensure yield monitors work correctly from the get-go, be sure to check or maintain these components:
-When the combine's key switch is turned to "on", most moisture meters should be heard cycling their electric motors. If plungers aren't "plunging", paddles aren't "paddling" or mini-augers aren't "augering", determine why not. Most common culprit is debris from last year's harvest clogging the moisture meter.
-Mass flow sensors are mounted in the front side at the top of clean grain elevator housings. Their impact plates--curved pieces of flat plastic--can wear over time due to grain flow. If there are waves in the plastic, and especially if there are holes in the plastic, replace the strike plate. Grain must flow smoothly over that surface for accurate yield calculation.
-Update software in the cab's display console. Maybe. If you're happy with the way the monitor ran last year you can use "old" software. But if you have problems during harvest and contact your dealer, the first thing they'll probably do is want the software updated to the latest, greatest version. The theory is that software updates address "bugs" and glitches known to cause problems, so the first step in fixing problems is to ensure it's not software related. If you're computer-competent you can go to the website of the yield monitor manufacturer and download your own software updates. Otherwise, contact your local dealer for a brief service call.
-Test the system. It takes crop flow through the machine to test all functions of a yield monitor, but simply turning on the combine and driving it around with the separator and feederhouse running may identify potential problems. Ground speed (miles per hour) should read accurately, acres should accumulate as the machine moves around your farmyard. Mass flow sensor readings shouldn't fluctuate wildly. Temperature readings from the moisture meter should be relatively close to ambient air temperature. If any of the aforementioned readings are out of range, the immediate suspect is mouse damage to wiring harnesses and cables, or water damage/corrosion to pins in wiring harness connectors. Identify the harness related to the aberrant reading and check it for damage.
Yield monitors have become incredibly reliable in recent years. Accuracy--well, some folks are very satisfied with yield-per-acre accuracy, while others tear their hair out trying to tune their yield monitor's precision. Pre-season maintenance helps improve the chances for accuracy, but...in-the-field tips for yield monitor precision will have to wait for another blog once harvest has begun and everybody is in the field.