Tips to measure soybean harvest losses
Equipment adjustments play a major role in reducing soybean harvest losses. To make the proper adjustments, the combine operator should stop the combine periodically and check the amount and type of loss that is occurring. Since 80% of the losses occur at the header, this article will focus on measuring gathering losses.
• Measure soybean harvest losses to see if combine adjustments are necessary.
• Determine the average losses in beans per square foot.
• The goal should be soybean losses of 3% or less.
The first step is to build a frame having an inside area of 1 square foot; a 1-inch PVC pipe works. Next, stop the combine in a representative area of the field and back up 10 to 15 feet. Use the frame to count the number of beans on the ground in the harvested area in front of the header. Take at least four counts across the entire length of the header. For each count, record the following information:
• Shatter loss. Count all loose beans and beans in loose pods in the standing crop ahead of the combine; subtract number from number of loose beans and beans in pods you find in harvested area.
• Loose stalk loss. Count all beans in pods attached to plants that were cut but not gathered into the combine.
• Lodged stalk loss. Count all the beans in pods attached to plants that were not cut.
• Stubble loss. Count all beans in pods that remain on the stubble.
Determine the average losses in beans per square foot for each category and divide by four (four beans per square foot equals 1 bushel per acre). Make one adjustment at a time and stop periodically to evaluate your progress toward reducing harvest losses to 3%.
Stanton writes for MSU Extension.
This article published in the October, 2012 edition of MICHIGAN FARMER.