Choosing the Right Combine Harvester

Combine harvesters are agricultural machines mainly used to harvest grain crops such as cereals. They allow simultaneous harvesting and threshing. Choosing the right combine harvester can be daunting as there are a number of options available.

 You’ll want to take into account your harvest budget and expected profitability in order to best calculate which machine matches your business plan. Choosing the harvester in accordance with the type of grain and straw separation desired is also quite important. In addition to this, you’ll need to consider storage capacity. In this guide, we’ll discuss the following points:


  • Combine harvester types
  • Area to be harvested
  • Calculating the price
  • Grain and straw separation
  • Storage capacity
  • Tires

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  • Should you choose a self-propelled or tractor-mounted combine harvester?

    There are two main types of traction for combine harvesters: self-propelled and tractor-mounted.

    • Self-propelled wheeled harvester machines are excellent for farms with hard soil. They are the most commonly used.
    • Tractor-mounted harvesters are attached to and pulled by a tractor. They work best on land where the soil is loose and the farmed area is extensive.

    Certain combine harvesters are fitted with tracks instead of wheels. They are very efficient in areas where wheels would likely get bogged down. Track combines are commonly used for harvesting rice and other crops from wetlands.


    Tractor mounted combine harvester

    Tractor-mounted combine harvester

    Self propelled combine harvester - Joh Deere

    Self-propelled combine harvester – John Deere

  • What are the different types of combine harvesters?

    There are three types of combines that allow three types of separation of grain and chaff: with shakers (also known as staw walkers), with rotors and hybrid. Your choice will depend on the specifications of your harvest area and your goals.


    • The conventional combine harvester (with shakers): This is the classic choice of farmers, it is the oldest and most reliable technology. The number of shakers can vary from 4 to 8.  
    • The non-conventional combine harvester (with rotors): This type of machine is compact and less cumbersome than those with shakers. It also requires less maintenance. The finished product is also better quality because the grain is less broken. However, this type of machine is sensitive to the mass and state of the straw as well as its humidity. Its fuel consumption per hour is also higher.
    • The hybrid combine harvester: This type of machine is composed of: a drummer and concave accompanied by rotors. Threshing will therefore damage the grain less. However, it’s less available on the market than the other types.


    Unconventional combine harvester- CLAAS

    Non-conventional combine harvester- CLAAS

    Conventional combine harvester- JOHN DEERE

    Conventional combine harvester- JOHN DEERE

  • Which combine harvester for what size harvest area?

    Combine harvesters come in different sizes specifically to provide the right tool for harvest areas of different sizes.

    • For an area of less than 300 hectares, a single machine may suffice. In which case, it’s recommended to choose a conventional combine harvester which has straw walkers as a threshing device.
    • If the area is greater than 300h and you cannot harvest for a long period, you have two choices:
      • Two conventional combines: in this case, two machines are used to increase productivity, making the workpload more mangeable
      • A non-conventional combine harvester (with a rotor): This avoids having to do the daily maintenance of two machines. This type of combine harvester has much greater capacities.
  • How much storage capacity do you need?

    The storage capacity of a combine harvester should never be more than the harvesting head can process. The storage capacity of the hopper varies depending on the model (4,000 liters, 5,000 liters, 6,000 liters, 7,000 liters, 8,000 liters, 9,000 liters, 10,000 liters, etc.). In order to ensure maximum continuity during the harvest phase, it is important to choose an appropriate storage capacity.

  • How to choose the right tires for a combine harvester?

    It is important to note that a standard combine harvester weighs 15 tonnes on average. Add to that a hopper filled with 400 bushels of wheat that weighs about 12 tonnes. You get a total weight of 30 tonnes. This heavy weight can cause significant soil compaction. Which can reduce its productivity for the next harvest.

    You should choose your combine harvester’s tires according to its storage capacity as well as the characteristics of the terrain. You can also opt for a combine harvester on tracks.




  • How to calculate the price for a combine harvester?

    First of all, remember that for a given type of machine, the power/harvested area ratio and the average cost price are linked. For a recent combine harvester, count on average 1.1 hp/ha for an average cost price (excluding fuel and labor) of €71.7/ha. Keep in mind that cost will vary depending on location; a combine harvester in Europe might not cost the same as one sold in America, for example. We’ve used the calculation for Europe to give you an idea.


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