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Study Shows Farmers Losing More Yield Than They Think
USAgNet - 07/10/2019

Corn growers generally express confidence in their ability to manage deck plate gaps and limit kernel loss during harvest, but a field study from Dragotec USA suggests potential yield loss may be more significant than they believe.

The study, which used electronic sensors to track the movement of Drago's automatic, self-adjusting deck plates, revealed some eye-opening facts about the variability of stalk thickness at harvest and the potential yield loss associated with it.

"We wanted to quantify the overall ability of Drago's automatic deck plates to minimize gaps and related yield loss in harvest conditions," says Dustin Bollig, Iowa farmer and North American Marketing Director for Drago.

To help conduct the study, Drago worked with HeadSight, an independent manufacturer of header height control systems, for measurement and analysis of deck plate movement. Highly accurate, the sensors could measure deck plate movements to 1/1000 of an inch.

"The sensors revealed a significant variability in stalk diameters - plant-to-plant as well as row-to-row," Bollig says. "Harvesting at 4.0 mph, the automatic deck plates averaged 163 decisions per row per minute - adjusting from as little as one-eighth inch to as much as one-half inch."

On a per acre basis, the automatic deck plates made nearly 5,390 decisions, involving adjustments from one-eighth inch or wider - including 1,582 decisions of a quarter-inch or more and 196 decisions of a half-inch or greater.

One of the more remarkable stats from the study was "deck plate spacing as a percentage of time," Bollig says. "We could track the percentage of stalks at various thicknesses in the field we harvested. It showed that if your deck plates were set only for the most common stalk thickness, you would have been off nearly 75% of the time."

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