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Sponsored: Measuring and Minimizing Yield Loss

When a combine leaves the field after harvest and grain is left lying on the ground, it’s considered a loss. But what is considered acceptable loss? It would be great if we could get 100 percent of the crop we harvest to stay in the combine and make it to the bins, but that’s not possible. We have to accept a percentage of lost grain to be tolerable. Most combines are equipped with grain loss monitors, which consist of calibrated sensors to determine when grain is leaving the combine and where.

Most of these sensors are calibrated through vibration of the grain hitting the sensors, which lets the operator know that more or less grain is leaving the combine. When you calibrate a grain loss monitor, you’re telling the monitoring system that you are satisfied with the amount of loss that you are seeing on the ground after you harvest. That’s why it’s so important to calibrate the machine after you have walked your check strip and determined that the amount of grain leaving the combine is acceptable. If you are losing more grain when you are harvesting, you may have to adjust your clearance, rotor speed, or ground speed to levels that you are satisfied with.

10.18 Harvest Grain Left Behind

I always like to walk the field before I harvest to determine what my pre-harvest loss is. With soybeans, you may not always be throwing grain out the back of the machine. It could have been there before you started, so you have to know how much grain is on the ground before you start. Next, you have to know where you are losing grain from. When cutting soybeans, most of the grain typically comes from head loss, which is also known as shatter loss. This is why it takes longer to check for loss with soybeans than corn.

Once you’ve determined that you don’t have any pre-harvest loss, you can check to see what is considered head loss vs. combine loss. This will take more than one person but is really simple and accurate.

  1. You will need attach a 1 ft. by 1 ft. window screen to a wooden frame. After the platform passes, toss a screen behind the platform and continue harvesting. The screen will put a barrier between head loss and combine loss.      
  2. Once the combine has passed and the dust settles, go back to your screen on the ground. Everything on top of the screen is grain coming out of the back of the combine. Here you want to see if you have soybeans left in the pods, harvested soybeans that might have blown out the back from improper fan speed. Anything under the screen is either pre-harvest loss or head loss. From there you can adjust ground speed, reel speed or adjust combine settings to minimize grain loss.

If you have questions about how to monitor grain loss this harvest, please contact your local Beck’s representative.

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