Harvest season has begun for some of you, while others are getting combines out from under the shed hoping to begin in the next few weeks.

Since we are on the edge of what could be a great harvest season for you, I would like to take a little time and give you some information on the importance of yield monitor calibration.

For those of you are engaged in precision agriculture techniques on your farm or you consult for/with those who do, a yield monitor is an important tool for evaluating production practices such as precision soil sampling, variety evaluation, variable-rate seeding, variable-rate nitrogen, etc.

In addition to measuring yield, these systems allow for the recording of crop moisture, elevation, variety, and a number of other harvest variables.

Maps depicting yield variations across fields can be developed and used to provide farm management decisions to improve crop productivity.

However, for the information produced from yield monitors to be accurate and reliable, calibration is the most important step whether you are collecting data for yield maps and management or are just interested in seeing the instantaneous yield as you move across the field.

Pre-season checklist

• Clean grain elevator chain: It is very important to check the tension of the elevator chain. Look for worn paddles, loose links, and worn sprockets. All these can cause erroneous data resulting from the way the grain impacts the yield sensor at the top of the elevator.

• Moisture sensor: Make sure there is not any debris from previous crops obstructing the moisture sensor channel. If there is, clean the sensor before starting. Also, if you begin harvesting in high moisture corn like most are starting to do, some of the plant resins can obscure the moisture readings. So just be aware you may want to check the sensor during the first few days of harvest.