4. Precision Harvesting
For the farmer, harvesting is a critical point in time. Speed, accuracy, and timing determine whether the harvest will be successful. Until recently, harvesting was the most burdensome and laborious activity of the entire growing season. Today, the task is taken over by some of the most sophisticated farm machines such as:
The combine harvester (‘combine’): one of the most important labour-saving inventions of all times.
It combines 3 separate harvesting operations into one single process: reaping, threshing and winnowing. The excess straw is either chopped and spread on the field or - using automated balers - baled to provide
feed and bedding for livestock. Combines are used to harvest crops such as wheat, oats, rye, barley, corn, soybeans and linseed.
Forage harvesters (‘foragers’) for feed production: foragers chop grass, corn or other plant into small pieces which are then compacted together in a storage silo for fermentation to feed livestock.
Specialist harvesters: tailor-made machines have been developed for the automated harvesting of other fruits and crops such as potatoes, carrots, sugar beet, grapes, cotton or apples. One key challenge for these machines is how to ensure perfect extraction while maintaining the physical integrity of the crop.