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View from inside of combine harvesting machine, person driving combine and harvesting corn at sunset ArtistGNDphotography/Getty Images
YIELD CHECK: A combine harvests corn and gathers geo-referenced yield data.

6 steps to prepare combine yield monitors for calibration

Avoid the "junk in equals junk out" mistake with your yield monitors.

If you hope to make decisions about how manage your fields based on your yield maps, make sure the yield monitors are properly calibrated before harvest, advises Anthony Bly, South Dakota State University Extension soils specialist.

You want to avoid the “junk in equals junk out” mistake when using yield monitors. They have to be calibrated before harvest to make sure they are measuring yields properly, and they have to be recalibrated when weather conditions, moisture levels and other factors change. You also have to calibrate for each crops.

Bly says take these steps to get ready to calibrate yield monitors in the field:

1. Check the software. Check to make sure the monitor controller screen is ready for this year’s data. Is there enough room in the internal storage or the external USB device? Move last year’s data to an appropriate folder or even get a new USB storage device for the upcoming year. Review the owner’s manual so you understand and refresh your memory of the calibration procedure.

2. Check the hardware. Power up the yield monitor and components and make sure everything is working and there are no error codes that would indicate a potential problem. Check all the components and wiring to make sure that everything is undamaged and connected properly.

3. Verify accuracy. Make sure the scale on your weigh wagon or grain cart is accurate. This may include loading out some of last year’s grain and checking the weight on a certified scale at your local grain elevator.

4. Start planning. Think about a field you might want to start combining and develop a plan for how to calibrate yield monitors by varying the grain flow across the mass flow sensor. Don’t use headlands, end rows or poor field areas.

There are two ways to vary the flow across the sensor. You can vary the speed of the combine to increase or decrease the flow or keep the combine speed constant and vary the width of cut at the header or the number of rows for corn. With either approach, the larger the area combined for each calibration load the better.

Your yield monitor manual will suggest the quantity of grain and number of calibration points to combine for each approach. Recalibration is needed as grain moisture and test weights change by farm location and crop variety or hybrid. A rule of thumb is that different mass flow sensor calibrations are needed for grain above and below 20%.

5. Set sensors to measure correct values. Calibrate the grain moisture sensor to values measured at your local grain elevator or your own moisture sensor if you know that it corresponds with a certified grain moisture tester.

6. Calibrate for vibration. Vibration calibrations usually are conducted with an empty machine running at full rpm with the header lowered to operational height. Consult the operator’s manual or quick reference guides for your specific system. Many are available on-line and can be quickly downloaded to your mobile device.

Taking time to calibrate yield monitors will pay dividends.

“A well calibrated yield monitor will help increase the value of all other precision farming equipment,” Bly says.

Source: SDSU, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.
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