Technology Advancements for Iowa Farmers

Agriculture | FIND Iowa
Apr 18, 2024 | 00:4:57

How do the technologies in this combine challenge your perception of farming?

Technology has changed the way a farmers do their job. For example, combines have improved a lot due to technological advancements in GPS, sensors and other features.


[Abby Brown] Agriculture in Iowa is about families, hard work, tradition and machines, huge machines, like awesome combines with tools and gadgets on the cutting edge of technology, like global positioning systems or GPS so it can drive itself, cameras for watching the corn go into the grain tank, touchscreens and monitors that measure and tell the farmer exactly how much corn is harvested in that exact location and so much more.

[Abby] This is my friend Candi and she is a farmer right in the middle of harvest but taking a quick break to show us how awesome her combine is. Candi, tell us about your equipment and your farm.

[Candi Engler] So, we run a lot of John Deere equipment and today, we're out here harvesting corn. We have a new S780 John Deere combine and it has got a lot of really interesting technology on it.

[Abby] So cool, let's go check it out.

[Candi] So the first thing that is on it that is really interesting is the GPS receiver, the yellow globe on the front.

[Abby] What does that do?

[Candi] It allows us to know where we're at within an inch in the field. So it helps us to drive the machine automatically and it also helps us to have the grain cart drive right next to me and stay beside me while we're unloading grain. It has the guidance system in it and it will drive right down the rows for me.

[Candi] So we also have header height sensing on this machine.

[Abby] And this is the header right here on the front, right?

[Candi] Yeah, this is the head. It's where the corn feeds into the machine to be processed. And on the front there are sensors that feel the ground and as the ground touches these it automatically moves the head up and down so it can follow the contours of a rolly field like this one.

[Abby] That makes sense. Ground is never just flat.

[Candi] Very rarely. So there's basically five big things that the combine does. The first is the head, it brings the corn into the machine. Then it comes up into the separator. That grinds it up and separates the corn kernels from the rest of the plant material.

[Abby] That makes sense because you really just want that kernel, right? The rest of it you don't really need.

[Candi] Exactly, that's what a combine, how it got its name. It combines threshing the crop, separating it and then storing it up in the grain tank.

[Abby] I never knew that.

[Candi] So then it goes up into the cleaning shoe and that is going to shake the heavy grain falls to the bottom and the light chaff and corn cobs go to the back of the machine.

[Abby] More of that stuff that you just don't want.

[Candi] Exactly.

[Abby] Just getting it really nice and clean.

[Candi] And then the clean grain goes up into the large hopper at the top, the clean grain tank. And then the last thing is the stuff we don't want heads back through the chopping system and gets chopped up so that it's nice little pieces that can break down over winter and go back into the soil. And it also helps protect from erosion over the winter and really puts a mat on top of the soil for us.

[Abby] Oh, that's perfect. There's a lot of really cool things and tools and important parts on the outside of this combine. But I know the cutting edge technology is really on the inside. So tell me what's going on in there.

[Candi] So there is a full computer in there that is helping monitor how the machine is performing and providing me lots of information so I can help make adjustments.

[Abby] Like what?

[Candi] So I can adjust how the cleaning system is working, I can adjust the speed that I'm going, there's lots of different options that can help make the machine work better. The sensors really do help. They let you know how it's doing from the grain quality to how much grain is coming out the back of the machine. We want to make sure we get it all in the grain tank.

[Candi] You can seein here how we set up the guidance and that is what allows it to guide it down each row.

[Abby] Like a driver kind of?

[Candi] Yeah, exactly. And once I get it started into the corn rows it actually follows the rows for me. So if they curve or move, it moves them with me.

[Abby] And that is with GPS?

[Candi] Yeah, it's using GPS but it's a combination with row feelers. So when that row moves it can follow that. So it's using both together to make sure it does the best job possible.

[Abby] And I know there's one more really cool thing that this combine does that's pretty new, right? Tell me about it.

[Candi] Yeah, so it has been around for a few years but it's the first combine that we've had that we have been able to use it on. It allows us to sync the grain cart tractor with the combine and it matches my speed and position and stays underneath me. So if I need the cart to move forward I push a button and nudge it forward a little or nudge it back. And it allows me to keep moving even while I'm unloading the grain.

[Abby] So, before we had this technology how was that job done?

[Candi] With really close coordination between one driver and the other driver and usually ended at some point with dad yelling at you because every kid runs the grain cart first. That's the first job.

[Abby] Oh that's cool!

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