New head changes residue placement
By TOM J. BECHMAN
If you see a cornfield harvested with the Oxbo corn head, you should be able to recognize it. Stalk stubs show clean cuts. Residue appears fluffed.
A player in sweet corn and seed corn harvesting for years, the yellow Oxbo corn head is a newcomer to the commercial corn market. When Darren Foster, ag marketing and product manager for Tuthill Drive Systems, Brookston, leased a combine to demonstrate the company’s Bale Direct system, it was equipped with a 12-row, non-folding Oxbo corn head.
“It’s supposed to put more cobs and less stalk residue into the bale,” Foster says. They pulled a baler behind the combine, directly conveying residue to the baler with their Bale Direct attachment. Never letting residue hit the ground keeps out dirt that ethanol plants don’t like.
• Bales formed behind the Oxbo corn head seem to contain more cobs.
• Residue distribution pattern behind head may favor quicker soil drying in spring.
• It was a tough fall for a good test of vertical tillage tools.
Extra cob in the bales should also be a plus for ethanol plants, Foster says. There were lots of cobs visible in bales formed behind the Oxbo head.
Foster admits the company may be ahead of the market, since there are no cellulosic ethanol plants in Indiana. However, he feels the process will become commercial. Some bales were shipped to Purdue University researchers trying to make cellulosic ethanol production more effective.
One thing that makes the Oxbo different is that it utilizes rubberized gathering belts. Stripper plates are adjustable hydraulically from the cab.
Representatives for Oxbo tout the way the corn head leaves residue as another advantage. The company believes it could be a plus for no-tillers.
The residue appears fluffed and gathered more between two rows, compared to observing fields where conventional heads harvested the crop. In theory, that should leave more soil exposed so it can dry out and warm up quicker, rather than being matted to the ground.
Adding the words “in theory” is important because few Midwest farmers have experience planting behind this corn head.
The other question could be how much row area isn’t covered by residue. It’s not a problem on flat fields, but might be an issue on sloping land. However, in recent demonstrations, there still appeared to be adequate cover across the field as a whole.
The other way farmers are addressing the corn residue issue is with vertical tillage tools. However, because it was so dry during the fall, some farmers report they aren’t sure how much soil mixing occurred. Part of the concept is mixing residue with soil to begin breakdown of residue. At least one farmer reported that once fields dried out after a rare rain, he was primarily cutting residue, not mixing it with soil. All of these concepts are so new that time may determine if they’re effective.
This article published in the December, 2010 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.
All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.