Following on from our staff outing a couple of months ago when we all got to know each other better, we have decided to start getting a feel for what the different teams working here get up to.
Last Tuesday I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to join Farmer Jake and Farmer Tim on the combine harvester as they come towards the end of Harvest 2016 here at Overbury.
Being born in a town and never having really had much to do with farming or the countryside, I have to confess I don’t really understand much about the world of farming. However, with Jake and Tim patiently answering my incessant questions I learnt a lot!
Here are my top 10 nuggets of new knowledge:
1. The front part of the combine (apparently called the Header) is currently one of only 2 in the country. The only one in use, with the other being used for demonstration purposes. It is from Canada and has all the latest technology to ensure the harvesting is done as efficiently as possible.
2. The combine harvester, when working in the field, is a massive 10.5 metres wide.
3. During harvest season, the combine harvester runs from about 10am until 10pm daily. Starting at 10am allows the sun to dry the moisture from the crops so less drying has to be done in the Grain Store.
4. At least 2 tractors with trailers alternate all day to collect the grain when the combine harvester is full and take it to the Grain Store.
5. The combine harvester holds 10 tonnes of grain and takes about 15 minutes to fill when harvesting wheat. When the tank is nearly full the orange lights on the top flash to alert the tractor and when it is ready the arm swings out for the trailer to line up beneath. It takes about 2 minutes to unload a tankful of grain from the combine as it continues to harvest the crop.
6. The combine harvester has an on board computer which has GPS mapping of all our fields so the machine basically knows where it is going. As it harvests it plots on the map the quantity of the grain using colour coding so this can be reviewed after harvest to see whether soil needs treating in any areas.
7. At the end of each row the driver turns the combine to line it up for the next row and then the combine takes over, knowing where it has already been from the GPS tracking.
8. The cab of the combine harvester is very comfortable with a passenger seat, radio, a small fridge and even room for a four legged friend. Very handy when you are in there at the hottest time of year for hours at a time. On a personal note, it is also the best place to be for a hay-fever sufferer with extremely efficient air conditioning!
9. Inside the combine, the grain is separated from the straw, husks and leaves. The grain is sucked up into the hopper at the back and the straw and any weeds are chopped up and blown out of the back to cover the stubble. This is then churned up by worms to put nutrients back into the soil ready for the next crop.
10. Combine harvesters are great fun to ride in (although I wouldn’t like to have to drive one!)
Thank you to Jake and Tim for sharing a bit of your vast knowledge with me. I really enjoyed my time with you.