Performance benchmark of yield monitors for mechanical and environmental influences

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Schuster, Jason
McNaull, Robert
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Darr, Matthew
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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Crop yield data and maps from previous years are a primary source of information from which crop management recommendations and decisions are based upon. Yield data is a useful tool for making crop management decisions, but becomes irrelevant when it is not accurate or reliable. The objectives of this research were to benchmark commercial yield monitoring systems to better understand performance and to assess limitations of measurement methods from mechanical and environmental influences. Two commercial yield monitors that measured mass and volumetric flow for yield estimation were selected for benchmarking. Each system was calibrated using manufacturer procedures and evaluated in a yield monitor test stand compliant with standards. Clean grain elevator paddle type and machine orientation were selected as treatment factors to evaluate accumulated load accuracy at different grain flow rates. There was no significant difference in mean estimation error for different paddle types for the impact-based mass flow yield monitor. There were significant differences in mean estimation error for different paddle types for the volumetric flow yield monitor. This was attributed to presentation of grain to the sensor between flat and misshapen paddles. Rolled and pitched machine orientations were shown to have significant influence on estimation accuracy for the volumetric flow yield monitor. However, the volumetric flow system maintained lower variability across flow ranges than the impact-based mass flow yield monitor because of a fundamental measurement system that does not rely entirely upon calibration. A fundamental measurement system and known machine properties may be able to overcome the challenges of a harvesting environment. Maintenance of yield monitor accuracy with less calibration will contribute to increased uptime and better basis for crop management decisions.


This proceeding is from 2017 ASABE Annual International Meeting, Paper No. 1700881, pages 1-15 (doi: 10.13031/aim.201700881). St. Joseph, Mich.: ASABE.

Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2017