New Baling System Could Change Corn Harvest

Indianan company in middle of the effort.

Published on: Oct 4, 2010
A horrible B-flick you've probably never heard of, and one Hollywood hopes who never find out about, comes to mind. Called Prime Cut, it featured girls sold into slavery. The only memory I have from it comes from a scene where the bad guys wound up getting chased on a farm. A combine runs wheat, and bales of straw drop out of the back of the combine. I almost laughed out loud.

Well, was Hollywood that prophetic, or just lucky? I'll go with luck. Last week I watched bales drop off behind a combine, although they went through a baler first. And it was corn stalks and cobs that were being baled, not wheat straw. But the technology is now here to bale up residue directly out of the combine before it ever hits the ground.

Invented overseas and already used in Australia for several years for a variety of reasons, the license to build the crucial component that links the combine to the baler is held by Tuthill Industries, Brookston. The company also makes Mud Hog drives for combines.

With the Bale Direct system, the combine heads into standing corn, shelled corn winds up in the grain tank just like always, and three by four large square bales of stover heavy on cob, wind up lying in the field after harvest.

Here's how it works. Tuthill engineers say the chopper comes off the combine, freeing up enough horsepower to power the baler. Instead of tapping into the combine's hydraulics, they attach a hydraulic pump outside the motor that then drives a hydraulic pump attached to the baler hooked behind the combine.

Residue falls directly off the rear of the combine onto a wide conveyor belt instead of being spread across the field. It's then fed into the baler. The result is bales coming off the baler.

A monitoring system in the cab tells the combine operator how the baler is performing. It's not necessary to stop when the next bale is ready to drop off. So as long as things run smoothly, he's not slowed down because the baler is behind him.

Engineers say that the unit can be unhooked form the combine fairly easily. Jack stands would hold the unit, still attached to the baler. Or if the person wants to convert the baler back to a standard, PTO-driven baler, he can do it in about four hours.

Look to hear more about this option soon.