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Operational Optimization of Grain Harvest Equipment

The objective of this research is to evaluate and improve the efficiency of grain harvest operations. During the 2001 seasons, grain-harvesting equipment on two farms was instrumented with GPS equipment. The GPS data-loggers were programmed with a system of geo-reference flags enabling the recording of combine, grain cart, and grain hopper load totals, unloading rates, and precise locations within fields and en route to the grain storage facilities. This work has demonstrated procedures for improving operational efficiency and lowering costs. Methods for improving operational efficiency have been identified, with efficiency gains of one to two acres per hour and cost savings of $1.00 to $2.00 per acre. While this may not seem large, it amounts to saving a few hours per full day of harvest, and with very tight profit margins in agriculture today, the cost savings can be significant. The research identifies methods for optimizing the size and number of harvest equipment components by size and type of farm.


Robert Hornbaker, Associate Professor
Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics
(217) 333-5508; hornbake@illinois.edu

Al Hansen, Associate Professor
Department of Agricultural Engineering
(217) 333-2969; achansen@illinois.edu


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