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Farmer Uses Combine To Double-Crop Beans
"It'll revolutionize double-cropping," predicts Nebraska farmer Dale Harlan, of Hickman, who has designed a header-mounted planter toolbar that lets him plant soybeans with his combine while he harvests wheat.

Harlan put the system together last year and planted over 300 double-cropped acres of both soybeans and sunflowers. Except for some minor problems with the "married-up" 1480 Axial Flow and Cyclo air planter, he says it worked exactly as he'd hoped when he first had the idea several years ago. He plans to use it again this year on all his double-crop acres and is in the process of patenting the idea.

"The beauty of planting directly behind the header is that all the straw and chaff is in the combine while you're planting so the seed is planted free and clear into the rows of stubble. As the combine passes, straw and chaff is dropped back over the seed and acts as a mulch, preserving whatever moisture is available," says Harlan, noting that straw is the biggest problem double-croppers face.

"If the straw is moist, it gets tough and you may have to disc the ground. This means another trip through the field, loss of time and discing dries out the soil. In our operation, that's costly because it means we have to irrigate right after planting something we don't have to do when we plant with our combine planter," says Harlan.

In addition to providing ideal growing conditions, planting with the combine means getting the second crop planted one to four days earlier, which Harlan says is worth about bu. per acre per day in his part of eastern Nebraska.

What are the drawbacks?

"It takes power to operate and slows down harvest by about 25%. However, the benefits of performing two operations at once far exceed the delay," he told FARM SHOW.

Here's how Harlan's combine planter works:

The first step was to design a tool-bar that would be compact enough to fit under the header and feederhouse, and hug the ground while leaving the header free to adjust to field conditions. Harlan used IH no-till openers, and other adapted planter parts to make the low profile units. There are 12 rows spaced on 15-in. centers.

The header was extended 14 in. ahead to make room for the toolbar, as was the feederhouse drag chain. The toolbar is mounted so that when the main lift cylinders raise or lower the header, the toolbar goes with it. But, once the header's lowered into position for harvest, it'll move independent of the planter toolbar which is controlled by its "robot" height controls.

The 6-row Cyclo air unit and seed box were mounted up next to the cab and adapted to 12 rows with a special-designed venturi valve. It's driven by a Cyclo hydraulic motor, driven off a combine jack shaft. Last year, the planter was equipped with a standard 11 to 12 bu. seed tank but this year Harlan added a 30 bu. tank mounted inside the 1480's 200 bu. grain tank. It will allow him to plant about 21 acres before refilling. He says the total amount of weight added to the combine is about 2,000 lbs.

"The toolbar was the toughest part of the system to figure out, since it has four separate parts that work independently of each other," says Harlan, noting that he didn't drill a single hole in the combine itself and can detach the planter toolbar by removing just two bolts.

Spacing and accuracy with the combine planter were as good or better than any double-cropping he's done in the past. The combine wheels run over two rows but Harlan says the rows were not adversely affected. He didn't harvest any differently than normal, varying header height from 3 in. to 2 ft. depending on conditions. And, although last year's harvet was unusually late he started combining/planting on the 8th of July and finished on the 22nd he had yields of as much as 27 bu. per acre.

"I don't see any reason why we can't get 35 to 40 bu. per acre if we get the beans in at our usual time from the 1st to the 10th of July," he told FARM SHOW. His sunflower crop was not good, however, and he doesn't plan to try double-cropping them again.

"Maybe the most attractive feature of this idea is

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1983 - Volume #7, Issue #4