Yield Monitor Maintenance

Do Some Data Housekeeping

Pam Smith
By  Pam Smith , Crops Technology Editor
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Back up data cards and winterize yield monitor components before putting the combine away for winter. (DTN Photo by Jim Patrico)

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) -- There could be a dirty little secret hiding in your combine cab. Yield monitors and data cards need care and attention. It's a housekeeping chore easily overlooked when tidying up at the end of the harvest season.

John Fulton, an agriculture engineer with The Ohio State University, encourages farmers to go over yield monitor components and to consider where monitors are stored for the winter. He said storage areas that allow continual warming and cooling can result in condensation that can corrode and damage electronics.

"Quality yield data is important today, so properly cleaning and maintaining yield monitor components such as the moisture and mass flow/volumetric sensors is important," said Fulton. "Buildup of debris or worn parts will lead to inaccurate measurements by these sensors."

Yield maps continue to be a data layer to learn from and drive both in-field and farm management changes. Calibration of yield monitors is another important step. Fulton stressed to DTN the importance of following proper calibration procedures and managing calibration curves by crop and crop condition.

To learn more about how to calibrate yield monitors in-season go to: http://corn.osu.edu/…

Fulton provides the following tips for post-harvest tasks regarding yield monitors on combines.


-- Create a backup copy of your raw yield data from the season. This step should be taken before uploading yield data to a Farm Management Information System (FMIS) or providing to your trusted data consultant. Place this backup copy in a secure and safe location.

-- Clean up the data card and delete old data to provide sufficient space for the upcoming season.


-- Compile written field notes from the growing season and during harvest. Information about field conditions and yield monitor operation can influence the resulting yield maps and be important when analyzing or using to generate prescription maps.

-- Document final calibration factors. This information can be useful for the next growing season. If your factors significantly change it could indicate a yield monitoring issue.

-- Document load weights used for calibrating the yield monitor. This information could be useful during post-season analysis.


-- Check all in-cab cabling and connections for damage.

-- After data is stored to a data card or uploaded to another storage location, turn off display and consider storing inside for the winter.

-- Check the expiration dates for any subscription services such as for GPS.


-- Store receiver inside in a conditioned space. If combine is exposed to elements, remove receiver from the combine and store inside.

-- Ensure correction subscriptions will be renewed so ready for spring work.


-- Remove sensor from housing and clean of debris, dirt and grain.

-- Inspect sensors for any excessive wear or damage of plates/fins. Replace over the winter if damaged.

-- Look over the wiring harness and other electronic devices (e.g. electronic control units -- ECU) connected to the moisture sensor for wear or damage.


-- Make sure there is no material built up on the impact plate.

-- Inspect for excessive wear and replace impact plate if needed.

-- Clean debris and dirt from the area where the sensor is mounted since debris can attract rodents.

-- Look over wiring harness.


-- Check for excessive wear of the elevator chain and paddles; replace if needed.

-- Ensure the elevator chain tension is adjusted properly.

-- Check both top and bottom bearings on the clean grain elevator.

-- If possible, engage separator to ensure the yield monitor system is reading the correct elevator speed.

For more information on yield monitor maintenance go to: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/…

Pamela Smith can be reached at Pamela.smith@dtn.com


Pam Smith