10 Tips to Make Combines a Well-Tuned No-Till Asset

Adjustments to sickles, flighting, sieves, stripper plates and other components can keep more grain in the tank and make harvest more efficient.

Pictured Above: UP OR DOWN? Soybean populations can have a direct effect on pod heights. No-tillers preferring to cut soybeans close to the ground will need to adjust sickle bars to the correct height, says Alpha, Ill., no-tiller Marion Calmer

Even with the progression of combine technology today, no-tillers can still lose a considerable amount of grain during harvest if their combine settings aren’t correct.

At the 2015 National No-Tillage Conference in Cincinnati, Calmer Corn Heads owner and Alpha, Ill., no-tiller Marion Calmer offered the following tips for adjusting your combine’s settings to leave less grain in the field, which should improve the machine’s efficiency and create more favorable seedbed conditions for the next planting season.

Harvesting Soybeans, Wheat and Oats

1 Adjust the Sickle. Most no-tillers like to cut soybeans as close to the ground as possible and that requires operators to adjust the sickle height correctly.

Calmer says no-tillers should take soybean populations into consideration because this affects the height of the pods. Research trials on his farm show a population of 150,000 had pod heights of 6 inches, while a population at 75,000 had pod heights of 4 inches.

“So when you plant thinner stands, soybeans pods are closer to the ground, therefore the sickle must be adjusted close to the ground to cut the pods off,” he says.

On Case IH feeder houses, the faceplate is adjustable and growers can loosen the side bolts and adjust a top-threaded turnbuckle to raise and lower the sickle. Lengthening…

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John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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