Combine Blogs > Combine Harvesters: The Most Simple Guide for Beginners [2020]

Combine harvesters are game-changers in agricultural field.

How?

I will answer that question for you in this article by covering:

  1. Basic information about combine harvester (definition, classification, working process, structure)
  2. Most up-to-date data about combine harvester market (in India and Vietnam).
  3. Top 04 biggest manufacturers of combine harvesters.

Let’s dive right in.

What is a combine harvester?

Combine harvester is a multi-functional machine for crop harvesting.

Combine harvesters can gather over 80 different types of crops (wheat, corn, soybeans, sunflowers, barley, clover, etc.)

Combine Harvester operating on the farm
Picture Combine Harvester operating on the farm. [1]
The word “combine” refers to the combination of three sequential tasks in the harvesting activity:

  1. Reaping: means cutting or gathering crops (like rice fields) (Picture 02).
  2. Threshing: means the beating and separating the seeds from stalks (Picture 03).
  3. Winnowing: means the freeing of grain from lighter particles (chaff, dirt, etc.) (Picture 04).

Combine harvester is one of the most IMPORTANT inventions in farming.

The machine helps reduce the amount of people engaging in agricultural works.

Crop reaping
Picture – Reaping [2]
Crop threshing
Picture – Threshing [3]
Wind winnowing
Picture – Winnowing [4]

How to classify Combine Harvester?

This part will help you explore:

  • Two ways of classifying combines: based on working mechanism, and on working surface.
  • Quick comparison within each classification.
    Summary of Combine harvester classification
    Picture – Summary of Combine harvester classification

Based on working mechanism

We can divide combine harvesters into two main groups:

  • Controlled combine harvester
  • Self-propelled combine harvester

1. Controlled combine harvesters

Controlled combine harvester refers to machines manually operated by an operator.

Its other names include: tractor-pull combine, tractor combine, and pull-type harvesting combine.

Nowadays, this type of combine harvester is NOT widespread.

Thus, we will NOT go into much detail about it.

Case 400 - One model of Tractor-pull Combine Harvester
Picture – One model of Tractor-pull Combine Harvester from CASE [5]

2. Self-propelled combine harvesters

MOST combine harvesters you see on the field today are self-propelled combine harvesters.

The machines run by themselves with an engine attached above.

The engine power plays two roles: driving and harvesting operations.

Whenever we use the word “combine harvester”, we refer to self-propelled combine harvesters.

Within self-propelled category, there are two sub-types:

  • Conventional combine harvesters.
  • Rotary (axial-flow) combine harvesters.

3. Conventional and Rotary combines – Comparison

3.1. Similarity:

  • The operator’s RIGHT setup is important to bring about HIGH output quality.

3.2. Difference:

  1. Rotary combines have fewer moving parts, this means HIGHER durability and LESS prone to breakdown.
  2. Rotary combines can scale up capacity without enlarging the machine size.
  3. Rotary combines have shorter history, the first Rotary was invented in 1975, while Conventional’s history date back to the 19th century.

Based on working surface

We can divide combine harvesters into three main types:

  • Level-land combine harvester: refers to machines working on even surface.
  • Hillside and Sidehill combine harvester: refers to machines working on steep surface (like a hill)

Hillside and Sidehill combines can be confusing.

But do not worry!

As I will clarify them below.

1. Similarity of Hillside and Sidehill

Same function of balancing the combines on steep hills.

  • The shift in combine’s center of gravity helps prevent the risk of being rolled over.
  • Without this function, chaff and grain would jump to one side of the machine, and lower threshing efficiency.

2. Three difference of Hillside and Sidehill

  1. Hillside combines can work on steeper conditions.
    • According to Wikipedia, Hillside combine harvesters around 35% on average (older models can reach up to 50%).
    • However, Sidehill combines only level to nearly 18%.
  2. Hillside combines leveled BOTH front-to-back and side-to-side, whereas Sidehill combines leveled ONLY side-to-side.
  3. Hillside combine’s designs are higher.
    • It requires additional 2-5 feet of steel on top.
    • This higher structure provides smoother rides for operators.
Sidehill combines on the Palouse hills of the U.S Pacific Northwest
Picture – Sidehill combines on the Palouse hills of the U.S Pacific Northwest [6]

Three-step working process of combine harvester

In this part, we will go step-by-step into:

  • Three stages of combine harvester’s working process.
  • Learn about activities in each stage.

1. Reaping the plants

The working process begins with the reaping activity.

This task is carried out by the combine header, which is mounted at the FRONT of the combine harvester.

There are MANY types of headers, specifically designed for particular crops.

During operation, the header gathers grains into the combine.

Summary of Combine harvester classification
Picture – Combine Header is reaping the crop plant. [7]

2. Threshing and separating plants

Then, grain travels up a conveyor to the threshing unit of combine harvester.

Animation of grains being conveyed up to the threshing drum.
Picture – Animation of grains being conveyed up to the threshing drum. [8]
Here, the threshing drum beats the crops to break against the combine concave.

Animation of grains being threshed.
Picture – Animation of grains being threshed. [9]
Combine Concave
Picture – Combine Concave [10]
After that, the broken crops come to the separating unit of combine harvester (next to the threshing unit) for separation grains away from their stalks.

The grains then fall through the sieves and land into the collecting tank.

The unwanted material (chaff and stalks) passes along straw walkers toward the back of the machine.

Animation of straw walkers operating inside a Combine Harvester.
Picture – Animation of straw walkers operating inside a Combine Harvester. [11]
Combine's sieve
Picture – Combine’s sieve [12]

3. Winnowing grains and discharging material-other-than-grains (MOGs)

As the collecting tank fills up, it must be emptied into a trailer through a pipe unloader (or side pipe).

The grain is elevated from the tank by an elevator and shoots out of a side pipe into the trailer.

The trailer is usually attached to a tractor and goes side-by-side with the combine harvester.

Grains are delivered to the grain tank via a pipe unloader.
Picture – Grains are delivered to the grain tank via a pipe unloader. [13]
Grains are then delivered to the cleaning unit of combine harvester.

One by-product from this working process is the material-other-than-grain (MOG), which include remaining leaves and stems with limited nutrients.

Certain combines have a rotating spreader mechanism that throws the MOG over a wide area.

Combine Spreader
Picture – Combine Spreader [14]
MOG is discharged on the farm, or baled up for bedding and livestock.

The structure of a Combine Harvester

There are over 130 different combine harvester parts that make up a typical combine harvester.

However, being a guide for beginners, I will focus only on certain key elements of combine harvesters’ structure.

Combine Structure
PictureUS Patent #4,450,671: Combine harvester with modified feeder house [15]
A typical combine harvester comprises the following important parts:

Combine Header Auger
Picture – Combine Header Auger [16]
  • 40: Combine Reel (indicated its position with a purple circle). It’s held in place by reel arms.
Combine Reel
Picture – Combine Reel [17]
Combine Cutter Bar
Picture – Combine Cutter Bar [18]
Combine Rotor (Auger)
Picture – Combine Rotor (Auger) [19]
Combine Auger Screw
Picture – Combine Auger Screw [20]
  • 42: Hydraulic rams (gray, bottom) that lift the header up and down.
  • 28: Combine Sieves (purple) that clean the grain.
Combine Sieve
Picture – Combine Sieve [21]
  • 100: Straw walkers (blue)
  • 18: Combine Grain tank (orange). This sits like a saddle over the central, straw-walker mechanism, with a shallow middle part and two deeper sections that extend either side.
Hopper Body
Picture – Hopper Body [22]
  • 36: Unloading pipe (dark green), based on an auger mechanism.
  • 19: Engine (red) sits behind the driver. The power shaft (blue, 102) drives all the machinery inside.
  • 14: Front drive wheels (light gray) are fixed (do not steer). The rear wheels (15) swivel for steering the combine.

The most recent update on Market of Combine Harvesters (2020)

When I did research about the combine harvester, I found that information about the machine’s market is VERY scarce.

Thus, I decided to have a section focus ONLY on this data about:

  • India combine harvester market, and
  • Vietnam combine harvester market.

India – The world’s largest market of Combine Harvesters

According to Mordor Intelligence, India market for combine harvester is potential thanks to its expected growth rate of 10.6% during the forecast period 2020-2025.

Overview of India market for Combine Harvesters
Picture – Overview of India market for Combine Harvesters [23]

Before, combine harvester is NOT an ideal choice, due to two reasons:

  1. The ample labor with low cost in India, which makes using machines a redundancy.
  2. The high risk of investing in such machines at the time, because of their high cost.

However, with rural work programs such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the market of combine harvesters has experienced a quantum-leap development.

Nowadays, Indian market for combine harvesters is more energetic, with many BIG combine manufactures (Preet Group, Claas India, Dasmesh Group, John Deere India, NEW HIND AGRO, etc.)

In India, self-propelled combines with high operating efficiency are VERY widespread.

In 2019, it is accounted that OVER 60% of combine harvesters are self-propelled.

It is expected to grow by 11.3% until 2025.

Vietnam – The growing market of Combine Harvester

Mordor Intelligence also reported that the Vietnam Combine Harvester Market was valued at USD 25.2 million (2019) and is expected to register a growth rate of 11.9% during the forecast period from 2020 to 2025.

Overview of Vietnam market for Combine Harvesters
Picture – Overview of Vietnam market for Combine Harvesters [24]

During 2018, the total number of combine harvesters in Vietnam was 751 units, with:

  • 90% are imported combine harvesters
  • ONLY 10% being domestically manufactured.

In recent years, domestic combines have made many improvements.

However, farmers still prefer imported units due to their HIGH quality and durability.

Four top combine harvester manufacturers in the world

This part will show you information about four top manufacturers of combine harvesters in the world:

  1. John Deere.
  2. Massey Ferguson.
  3. Case IH.
  4. New Holland.

1. John Deere – PIONEER in combine harvester industry.

John Deere is the official brand name of Deere & Company – an American company, founded in 1837.

The company operates MAINLY in agricultural, construction and forestry machinery.

According to the Fortune 500 America’s ranking of 2019, John Deere was ranked 87th.

ohn Deere CTS 9780i combine
Picture – John Deere CTS 9780i combine. [25]

John Deere is also considered the world’s largest farm equipment manufacturer, including the combine harvesters.

As of 2019, John Deere offered four different series combines, including:

  • Eight models of S-series combine (S760, S770, S780, S790, S660, S670, S680 and S690). [26]
  • Two models of X-series combine (X9 1000, X9 1100). [27]
  • Four models of T series combine (T550, T560, T660, T670). [28]
  • Four models of the STS series combine (also known as Single Tine Separation models).

Brand new equipment can be found from any John Deere dealership in EVERY state in the United States.

2. Case International Harvester – SPECIALIST in Rotary combines

Case International Harvester (Case IH) is a multinational company supplying agricultural equipment.

Founded in 1985, the company now has business units in every state of the U.S.

Case IH offers six models of Rotary combines.

Their Rotaries have VARIOUS power capacity and grain output to fit diversed farm sizes (from family size to industrial level).

Case-IH Axial Flow 7150
Picture – Case-IH Axial Flow 7150. [29]

Rotary combines from Case IH are famous for their durability, as all models comprise the fewest moving parts of any combine in the industry.

This helps simplify repairs to get farmers back into the field more quickly.

3. New Holland – UNIQUE twin rotor technology.

New Holland is a popular brand of CNH Industrial, focusing on agricultural machinery production.

The company was founded in 1895.

In 2011, New Holland was considered the biggest manufacturer of combine harvesters in the world.

New Holland is famous for their EXCLUSIVE twin rotor technology.

It provides MORE centrifugal force and BETTER threshing efficiency than standard designs.

New Holland CR10.90 Revelation
Picture – New Holland CR10.90 Revelation. [30]

4. Massey Ferguson – FIRST self-propelled combine manufacturer

Massey Ferguson is another well-known American manufacturer of agricultural equipment.

It was formed in 1953 via the merger of two farming machinery companies:

  • Massey Harris (Canada), and
  • Ferguson Company (Northern Ireland).

Massey Ferguson became the FIRST company to build self-propelled combines in 1938. [31]

Their combines provide the world’s FASTEST unloading rate, a 60% increase over the overall market.

This help get the job completed faster and more efficiently.

Massey Ferguson IDEAL 9
Picture – Massey Ferguson IDEAL 9. [32]

For more information about combine harvesters, feel free to check out other topics on our website:

(i) Seven Elements of Combine Harvester Power System

(ii) Uncover Combine Harvester’s Residue Chopping and Spreading

(iii) Discover a Vivid Picture of Concaves in Combine Harvesters

(iv) The 5 Most Insanely Powerful Combine Harvesters 2020

(v) Top 5 Combine Harvester Manufacturers in India and Their Best Machines

(vi) Simple Guide on the Classification and Specifications of Combine Harvesters

(vii) Working Processes inside the “Giant” Combine Harvesters

(viii) How a Combine Harvester Works ?

REFERENCES

1. “Highest Rate of Fatal Accidents Within Agriculture Industry”. DAC Beachcroft. Retrieved 17 June 2020.

2. “Substantial disbursement under PM-KISAN scheme in February itself, says Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Garg”. Financial Express. Retrieved 17 June 2020.

3. “Farm loan waiver: Panel to identify beneficiaries”. Punjabi Khurki. Retrieved 17 June 2020.

4. “CLASS 6 SCIENCE – Separation of Substances”. Soaring High. Retrieved 17 June 2020.

5. “CASE 730 Wheatland & CASE 400 Pull Type Combine”. Pinterest. Retrieved 17 June 2020.

6. “How To Sell: Leveling Systems Increase Harvest Productivity on Sidehills”. Farm Equipment. Retrieved 17 June 2020.

7. “Largest combine header in the world : MidWest Durus Premium 60′ – 18,3 meters”. Youtube (Neotorious Gaming channel). Retrieved 17 June 2020.

8, 9. “Combine Harvesting Animation (MCS)”. Youtube (Lonkhuyzen channel). Retrieved 17 June 2020.

10. “Combine Concave”. THANHTRUNG Metal Fabrication. Retrieved 19 June 2020.

11. “CLAAS TUCANO crop flow – straw walker animation / 2008”. Youtube (CLAAS channel). Retrieved 17 June 2020.

12, 21. “Case, Sieve”. THANHTRUNG Metal Fabrication. Retrieved 19 June 2020.

13. “Maize Chopping Baling and Wrapping in one pass | New Holland FX60 & Agronic multibaler NI’J Holthoes”. Youtube (Tractorspotter channel). Retrieved 17 June 2020.

14. “CR Opti-Spread™ Plus system”. Youtube (New Holland Agriculture channel). Retrieved 20 June 2020.

15. “Combine harvesters”. Explainthatstuff!. Retrieved 17 June 2020.

16. “Drum, Auger”. THANHTRUNG Metal Fabrication. Retrieved 20 June 2020.

17. “Shaft, Reel”. THANHTRUNG Metal Fabrication. Retrieved 20 June 2020.

18. “Blade, Reaping, Assy”. THANHTRUNG Metal Fabrication. Retrieved 20 June 2020.

20. “Rotor(Auger)”. THANHTRUNG Metal Fabrication. Retrieved 20 June 2020.

21. “Shaft, Screw(2ND,H)”. THANHTRUNG Metal Fabrication. Retrieved 20 June 2020.

22. “Hopper (Body)”. THANHTRUNG Metal Fabrication. Retrieved 20 June 2020.

23. “INDIA COMBINE HARVESTER MARKET – GROWTH, TRENDS, AND FORECAST (2020 – 2025)”. Mordor Intelligence. Retrieved 17 June 2020.

24. “VIETNAM COMBINE HARVESTER MARKET – GROWTH, TRENDS AND FORECAST (2020 – 2025)”. Mordor Intelligence. Retrieved 17 June 2020.

25. “Driver’s view: John Deere CTS 9780i combine”. Farmers Weekly. Retrieved 17 June 2020.

26. “John Deere Combine Harvester S Series Overview”. Machines4u. Retrieved 17 June 2020.

27. “X Series Combines”. John Deere. Retrieved 17 June 2020.

28. “T-Series. Harvest in record time”. John Deere. Retrieved 17 June 2020.

29. “Case unveils new 8.5m combine header for controlled traffic farming”. Farmers Weekly. Retrieved 17 June 2020.

30. “Automatic retention of the combine harvester’s maximum capacity”. Agromek. Retrieved 17 June 2020.

31. “Massey Ferguson’s unrivalled harvesting heritage”. Massey Ferguson. Retrieved 19 June 2020.

32. “IDEAL combine harvester from Massey Ferguson receive Red Dot Award at ceremony in Germany”. Agri Machinery News. Retrieved 17 June 2020.

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