With cotton harvest approaching, growers need to start performing necessary maintenance and adjustments to get the cotton pickers ready. One of the most often overlooked areas during this preparation is harvest technology i.e. the yield monitoring components. As cotton yield data is increasingly being used by crop consultants and growers in making crop management decisions, it is important to ensure the technology being utilized to collect this data is checked before heading to the field and functioning properly during harvest. Spending some time to perform quick technology checks during other routine maintenance can also reduce downtime due to yield monitoring issues in the field. Below are few general considerations for technology preparation and ensuring accuracy of yield data:
- Previous Harvest Data: Before beginning any harvest tasks for this year, make sure the data from the previous year(s) on the monitor is backed up and securely stored on an external storage device or synced to a cloud-based storage location. Also check if there is enough storage space on the monitor to store this year’s harvest data prior to operation to prevent data overwriting or loss.
- Sensors and Harnesses: Make sure all yield monitoring components are connected and working properly. Check if mass flow sensors are clean and free of debris, wiring harnesses are not damaged and connected properly, GPS receiver and other sensors are installed and functioning as intended.
- Monitor and GPS Firmware Updates: Check if the yield monitor and GPS receiver has the latest firmware and software installed. While these updates on most newer displays and GPS receivers are automatically installed, in some cases it may require you to work with your local dealer and have them update the systems.
- GPS and Correction Subscription: High GPS accuracy is important for accurate yield data. Make sure that the GPS receiver is working properly and the required correction service subscription is active and paid for at least until the end of the harvest season.
- GPS and Machine Settings: Verify that the GPS offsets and other machine settings including the location of the GPS antenna relative to the machine and header, number of rows, header width, and header mount point are all entered correctly in the harvest monitor. This is important for newer monitors and also easy to skip or forget when the monitor was used previously on a different machine.
- Calibration: When out in the field and before beginning harvest, remember to properly calibrate the yield monitor to ensure accuracy and quality of yield data. This calibration should be performed using at least three loads of varying weights instead of using a single load. Also, remember that any significant change in crop or field conditions may require additional calibrations to be performed during the harvest to maintain yield data accuracy.
Detailed step-by-step instructions for calibrating a cotton yield monitor can be accessed by following the link below: https://lgpress.clemson.edu/publication/precision-agriculture-cotton-picker-yield-monitor-calibration/
For growers using newer John Deere CP690 cotton pickers and using the onboard module weighing system to calibrate the yield monitor, make sure to properly calibrate the round module weighing system and moisture sensor by following the steps outlined in the video below: