Farm Equipment Tour: How to Drive a Combine

Sharing buttons:

if you ever wanted to learn how to drive

a combine well today's your lucky day

many of you have been asking me in the

comments section to talk about what some

of the controls do in our combine and

what some of the weird beeping noises

mean that come from the screen and the

corner of our cab so today's the day

climb up the ladder with me for a full

cockpit tour of a John Deere s 660

combine hey there thanks for turning

down my Road if this is your first time

here my name is Carl and you've picked

the perfect time of year to come ride

along there's nothing like fall harvest

in Iowa my little brother and I both

work for local farmers full time but we

both also farm together with our cattle

herd and our hay operation everybody's

involved from the smallest to the

biggest if you don't have the joy of

farming yourself I'd love to help you

experience it through this channel

whatever your background you found the

right place

this is Dodge Brothers farm and ranch


all right so first let's just start off

with the controls that we are using all

the time in the field to operate the

combine the most important control by

far is this stick right here this is the


it's in essence the same way that you

drive a lawnmower if you want to go

forward you push it forward if you want

to go backward you pull it backward and

your speed is simply controlled by how

far forward or how far backward you pull

the lever next we have our engine speed

we only have three predetermined engine

speeds in the combine there's low speed

which is about 1,200 rpms medium is

approximately 1,700 and then full

throttle is about 20 360 rpms

these two yellow switches control the

header and the separator in terms of

turning them on and off and then all of

the switches on the front of the

hydrostatic control are within easy

thumbs reach and control everything that

you need to operate while you're

actually harvesting these one through

three switches are your header height if

I engage the header control the number

one switch is raised the number two is

down and number three I've got set to be

all the way down if I want to run the

snoots just touching the dirt to pick up

down corn or to harvest really short

corn I run it on the number three

setting and then number one of course

raises it back to the up position for

crossing waterways and turning around

this auto steer resume button right here

will turn your auto steer function back

on as you are headed into the row this

is really handy when you're combining

beans as halfway through the turn I like

to push the auto steer button and it

guides you right into the next pass I

don't really use it as much on corn

because you can just pull into the next

row and then double-click the number two

button and that will automatically

engage the auto steer function

then you have your two four-way switches

in the middle of the control this is

manually lowering and raising the header

like if you want to raise it all the way

up to go down the road this is the

switch that you'd use to do that you can

also manually tilt the header to the

right and to the left with this switch

and then this switch controls your

header speed up is faster down is slower

and you have to have the header running

to change the header speed and right and

left on this switch when you have the

corn head on actually opens and closes

your neck place if you push it to the

right it closes your neck plates if you

push it to the left it opens your deck

plates and this is a really handy

control to have when you have really big

stalks and really big ears you'll open

them up a little bit when you have

really small stocks short to the ground

tiny little ears you want to close it up

all the way to make sure you don't have

any ears slipping through the deck

plates or shelling a lot of corn off of

the ears on the head and dribbling it

all over the ground this button on top

is your emergency stop switch if you're

going along and you see some obstruction

that you're about to take into the

combine you don't have time to reach

down and shut these switches off you can

hit this emergency stop switch really

quick while your hand is on the stick

and hopefully prevent taking that object

into the combine this switch right here

extends and retracts your unloading

auger finally this yellow button right

here turns on and off your unload auger

alright let's go ahead and show you how

these operating controls work first I'll

put the engine into medium speed and

I'll start the separator first which is

the rotor and the fan and the SIVs

shaking up and down and all of the

internal components that separate the

grain and then clean it and put it in

the tank

and then I'll start the header

run the engine up to full speed unless

harvests of corn

so as I pull it I'll lower it down with

the number two but

and then I'll double-click the number

too much

gage the auto-steer function

this court head is actually equipped

with ro sense which is just the set of


a couple of snoots

feel the row going past and adjust your

auto steer to follow the rope perfectly

allows the combine that drive much more

accurately than if it were simply

operating off GPS signal alone

this machine is also equipped with

automatic header height control as well

as contour master on the corn head there

are three switches that hang down

underneath the snoots and touch the

ground all the time and they control the

height of the header and the reason that

there's three is so that if you're going

over a contour and the right side needs

to be higher than the left side or vice

versa it can actually tilt the header

automatically to follow the contour of

the ground these three buttons are for

shifting your transmission speed into

low medium and road speed and then this

is your on/off switch for your parking

brake this black rotary dial right here

is your speed for your reel on the bean

head so it doesn't really apply to

anything that we're doing with corn

today and then this rotary dial is your

header height adjustment so when I have

the number two selected and the header

is down I can rotate this to the right

to carry it a little bit higher or

rotate it to the left to carry it a

little bit lower and that works the same

for your up position and for your all

the way down position back here we've

got our radio controls our hazard lights

for going down the road our rear lights

and our header lights climate control

this is really cool you can actually set

the temperature that you want it to be

in the cab these are all the shortcut

buttons for the menu options on the

display but we have a touch display in

here so I prefer to just use the touch

screen instead of using this clumsy menu

system over here with the rotary dial

and the rubber buttons on everything

all of these buttons right here have to

do with setting the machine which is

what we're going to do right now so let

me go ahead and show you how it works so

the first thing I'm going to do is raise

the chopper up and disengage it to get

it out of the way

now we're just gonna combine a little

bit and see what kind of a job we're



when you're setting the combine you want

to go ahead and simulate the speed that

you would normally be harvesting at to

try to keep all the conditions the same

the reason that we picked the chopper up

and disengaged it we want to leave all

the residue in a small swath down the

middle of the combine so that we can get

out and sift through it and see if we're

doing a good job getting all the kernels

off the cops and if we're not being too

aggressive at breaking all the cops up

and I'll show you what I mean here a


so we're gonna go ahead and stop and let

the combine clean out

and go see how we did

I like to see whole cobs that's a sign

that we're not being too aggressive on

the cobs and I also like to see that

they're all cleaned off and that there's

no kernels left on the cops because

kernels left on the cobs is corn left in

the field and we want to get all the

corn that we can out of the field now I

do see some corn on the ground here in

different spots that's more than I like

to see but you do have to remember that

we're combining eight rows and we're

leaving all the residue in a narrow band

across two rows so if this was all

spread out it would not be quite as much

as it looks like it is here but I still

want to do something to address the

issue first we're gonna see if that corn

on the ground is coming from the head or

if it's coming out the back of the

combine so let's go look up right behind

the head

we don't appear to be leaving much with

the head so it is coming through the

back of the combine

so we're gonna check up behind the rotor

beater and see if there's kernels

sitting up there

there are a few up there so I'm going to

go ahead and adjust my rotor speed and

give it enough time to sift through the

corn before it comes out

so the way we adjust that rotor speed is

we go ahead and engage this separator

run it up to full throttle then we push

the rotor speed button and we just raise

it a few rpms

I'm gonna put it at 400 and see how that


all right now we're gonna go ahead and

combine a little bit further and check


so there's no more coming over the rotor

because that shelf is clean of corn

which means that any coordinates on the

ground now is coming over the chaffeur

and the sieve which is that long shiny

area with the little fingers that

bounces up and down and sifts out the

grain from the chaff so I'm gonna go

ahead and open those just a little bit

until we start to get some trash in our

hopper and then I'll close them down

just a little bit more check it again

and we should be good to go so we just

push the chaffeur button and I'm going

to open that to about 20 and then push

it again and it cycles to the sieve I'm

gonna go ahead and open that to about


all right here we go again

so it's still a pretty clean sample but

if you look around you'll start to see

some small bits of cobs and some little

bits of corn stock much better so a good

way to think about this is since there's

85,000 approximately 85,000 kernels per

bushel and there's 43,560 square feet in

an acre it would take two kernels per

square foot on the ground to equal one

bushel per acre of loss however we're

concentrating eight rows worth of

material into two rows to look at on the

ground and as you can see there's not

that much there

let's talk about some of the noises

coming from this screen while we're


if you look at this number on the

right-hand side of the screen it's

counting down the estimated distance

until the Enduro when we need to take

control and turn around

that beep and the yellow indicator means

they were under 75 feet and when we get

to the end it will turn red and beep


the faint beeping that you hear as we're

driving down the end rows indicates that

we're crossing over a new GPS line every

time it beeps

these other two sounds that you

regularly here have to do with engaging

the auto steer and disengaging the auto

steer there's a triple beep that happens

when you engage the feelers for the auto

steer and then a double tone that

happens when you take control by

grabbing the steering wheel so I hope

you've learned a thing or two today and

I hope you're not quite as intimidated

by the cab of a modern combine as you

may have been before thanks for riding

along and we'll see you next time