8 Ways a Scale Can Maximize Harvest Efficiency

You’ll need reliable yield data from this year’s crop in order to plan accurately for next year. That’s particularly true when you apply many different agronomy methods, bio-technology and precision technology to maximize your yield potential. In fact, the more years of yield data collected, the more accurate your field prescriptions and plans can be, since every year is a little different.

At the same time, it’s important to maximize efficiency during harvest. Profit margins are already thin when you consider crop prices, the effects of weather, harvest delays and other factors. So it’s beneficial to eliminate guesswork by measuring crop yield while getting the job done as quickly as possible to avoid additional losses.

That’s one reason a growing number of farmers depend on solutions from Scale-Tec for their grain cart or auger wagon to weigh grain in the field. As you plan for harvest, here are eight ways a scale can help on your farm operation.

1. Segregate yield plots, fields or crop portions. “We have scales on two Kinze 1050 auger wagons, so we know what each individual field did as soon as it’s completed,” says Loring Heitman, who farms with his brother near Williamsburg, Iowa.

Because of the grain cart scale accuracy, the Heitman brothers rely on it to sell grain from their bins and when they divide up their grain at the end of harvest.

2. Analyze agronomy practices. A scale allows you to identify what worked and what did not. Without slowing down the harvest, you can compare individual fields, soil types, seed hybrids, fertilizer types, tillage equipment and cropping methods.

3. Formulate plans. Heitman says their Scale-Tec system makes it equally easy to plan ahead. “We use the information off each individual farm to know exactly what that farm is producing,” he explains. “And that helps us figure out our plans for next year.”

4. Save time and money. “Our Scale-Tec scales are better than a drive-over scale because if we’re farming 20 or 30 miles from home and we finish a field, we don’t have to haul a partial semi load home and weigh it,” says Heitman, noting the savings in both time and fuel. “It’s already weighed.”

5. Keep trucks moving, and within legal weight limits. “We have a digital display right on the side of the grain cart that shows the weight on the cart,” says Ryan Sperfslage, who farms near Monticello, Iowa. “So, when we’re running two grain carts and I see from the combine that there’s enough grain on the cart to finish out a truckload, I can send that cart on its way, get the semi loaded and on the road, and put the rest of the bin on the other wagon. It helps minimize the time the trucks are sitting in the field.”

6. Measure crop damage. “We also use the grain cart scales for crop insurance purposes,” Sperfslage says. “If we have crop damage, we’re able to measure it accurately with the grain cart and provide the necessary documentation.”

7. Calibrate yield monitors. “It’s important to understand that yield monitors don’t actually measure grain yield,” says Bob Nielsen with the Purdue University Department of Agronomy. “Instead, they estimate yield by converting electrical signals received from a mass impact or optical sensor into estimates of grain flow (pounds) per second or two of travel time.”

Hence, it’s important to calibrate the yield monitor before or early in the harvest season. One way to do that is to use a Scale-Tec scale on the wagon or grain cart to weigh a portion of the field and compare that against the yield monitor and make adjustments accordingly.

“Yield monitor calibration involves a series of steps, and one of those steps involves the harvesting of calibration loads of grain,” Nielsen adds. “The weighed loads are then used to teach the yield monitor’s ‘black box’ how to accurately convert the electrical signals from the sensors into estimates of grain flow rates.”

8. Check yield monitors. “Yield monitor accuracy can be influenced by yield levels outside the range of grain flow rates used for the yield monitor calibration,” Nielson says. “It can be influenced by seasonal changes in temperature; by seasonal changes in grain moisture content; by hybrids in terms of their differences for grain weight, grain shape, and grain moisture; and by field topography.”

It’s important to check and recalibrate your yield monitor multiple times during the harvest season. This step is too often overlooked, but it is critical for maintaining accurate harvest data.

Ryan Sperfslage agrees, noting, “Anytime we pull into a new field, we can look at what the yield monitor says we have for pounds and what the grain cart says we have. Then we can compare the two and know right away if the yield monitor is getting out of whack.”

“Accuracy can make a significant difference in profitability,” explains Nick Von Muenster, President of Scale-Tec. “Scale-Tec offers over 650 different grain cart kits. We’re particularly excited about the new POINT scale indicator. It’s simple yet the most technology-forward and powerful scale display we have available.”

View our products or check out our Grain Solutions page to learn more about scale products that will support your specific operation and equipment.