Farm Ireland

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Rope in risk by preparing for a wet harvest

Robert Deacon

If this harvest is anything like the wet harvest of 2008, extra wide terra-tyres, dual wheels or even track options may need to be considered.

If the worst does happen, it's out with the tow chain or sling. The latter is safer and far cheaper, but there is a third option.

Having worked in the USA and Canada on the combine circuit, I can provide some wet harvest advice and a 'bungee' rescue technique.

As much as any operator will try to avoid the wetter areas of the field they are harvesting, the unfortunate truth is that sometimes, against your best efforts, you can find yourself with a stuck combine, and your usual hop from the bottom step of the machine's ladder becomes a mystery jump into unknown territory.

This is not a great situation at any time, but with a few simple pre-harvest changes, this problem can be solved, saving hours of downtime.

The first and most simple thing that I learned on my American custom harvest is that if you're looking like you are going to have to harvest through or around a wet area, always try to have your auger on the side away from the crop.

This allows you easily to dump on to a trailer or grain cart. Often, simply by emptying your hopper, you can lose enough weight to allow the combine to reverse out of a wet spot under its own steam.

Sometimes, though, a bit of extra grunt is necessary to relieve the centrepiece of every harvest from a distinctly boggy situation. A combine, in its design, is actually a very delicate machine for its size.

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There is often no solid chassis between the large front-drive axle and the rear axle.

This means that most of the stress of pulling is placed on the lighter sheet metal. To avoid any serious strain on the machine there are a number of things that can help.

My suggestion is to leave the chains and wire ropes back in the workshop.

Try and get a bungee tow rope for pulling.

Not only will this prevent the sudden 'jerk' that other methods cause, but bungee ropes can also play a key role in personal safety.

Wire ropes and chains are highly susceptible to springing back if a holding pin breaks or they snap.

This can cause serious damage to anything or anyone in the way. But, in the same circumstances, a bungee tow rope will fall to the ground.

A bungee tow rope also allows the towing tractor to gain some momentum rather than having to start a pull from a standing start.


I have also met a farmer who fitted two permanent, slightly-tensioned cables from the front left and right axle of his combine to the rear hitch of the machine.

This allowed his combine's pulling effort to be transferred directly to its sunken front axle without over-stressing its framework.

Trying to fit these towing aids after the ship has sunk takes a lot of time and a very eager apprentice.

However, all situations are different, so take the time to check out the severity of the problems your combine is facing.

Be cautious of delicate undercarriage like your combine's fans. Check your machine's operator manual for tips on towing and contact your dealer if you are still unsure.

Hopefully, you will not have to worry about any of this in your upcoming harvest, but it is always good to plan for the worst and hope for the best.

Indo Farming