Source: Ohio State University Extension

The end of harvest marks a good time to implement good management practices for yield monitors including taking steps to winterize components. Yield monitors continue to increase and in most cases are standard options on today’s combines with the yield-mapping data being important information for precision agriculture services offered across the agriculture industry. A good post-harvest combine maintenance plan should include provisions for looking over yield monitor components and possibly storing devices in conditioned locations to reduce warming and cooling cycles potentially generating condensation and ultimately unneeded corrosion or damage of electronics.  

Quality yield data is important, so properly cleaning and maintaining yield monitor components such as the moisture and mass flow/volumetric sensors is important. The accuracy of yield map data is dependent upon one’s ability to maintenance and properly calibrate grain yield monitors. The buildup of debris or warn parts will lead to inaccurate measurements by these sensors. Poorly maintained and calibrated yield monitors can lead to inaccurate data and thereby improper farm management decisions. This point is especially important for farmer’s conducting on-farm research since yield maps are only as accurate as the data collected to create them.

The following provides a suggest list of tips for post-harvest tasks regarding yield monitors on combines.  You can also visit for additional Precision Ag information.

1. Data Card

•Take the time to create a backup copy of your raw yield data from the season. This step should be taken before uploading yield data to a Farm Management Information System (FMIS) or providing to your trusted data consultant. Make sure to place this backup copy in a secure and safe location at your house or office.

• Clean up the data card and delete old data to provide sufficient space for the upcoming season.

2. Field Notes

• If you have not already completed, write down field notes from the growing season and during harvest. We tend to forget information about field conditions and yield monitor operation that can influence the resulting yield maps. This information will be important when analyzing data or using it to generate prescription maps.

• A good practice is also documenting all your final calibration factors. This information can be useful for the next growing season to compare if your factors significantly change possibly indicating a yield monitoring issue.

• Document all your load weights used for calibrating your yield monitor. Again, this information could be useful during post-season analysis.

3. Display

• Check the expiration dates for any subscription services you are purchasing, such as for your GPS. You might want to take care of subscriptions during the winter months.

• After making sure all data is stored to a data card or uploaded to another storage location, turn off and consider storing inside for the winter.

• Take a few minutes and check all in-cab cabling and connections for any damage.

4. GPS Receiver

• Suggest taking off the combine and storing inside if you are not storing the combine in a conditioned space.

• Ensure any correction subscriptions will be renewed so ready for spring work.

5. Moisture Sensor

• Remove sensor from housing and clean of debris, dirt and grain.

• Inspect for any excessive wear or damage of plates/fins. If damaged, consider replacing them over the winter.

• Look over the wiring harness and other electronic devices (e.g. electronic control units — ECU) connected to the moisture sensor for wear or damage.

6. Mass Flow Sensor

• Make sure there is no material built up on the impact plate.

• Inspect for excessive wear and replace impact plate if needed.

• Make sure debris and dirt are cleaned from the area where the sensor is mounted since debris can attract rodents.

• Look over wiring harness.

7. Clean Grain Elevator

• Check for excessive wear of the elevator chain and paddles; replace if needed.

• Ensure the elevator chain tension is adjusted properly.

• Check both top and bottom bearings on the clean grain elevator.

• If it's possible, engage separator to ensure the yield monitor system is reading the correct elevator speed.