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The grain stripper-header

Modern agriculture is heavily mechanised, but that doesn’t mean that major improvements can’t still be made with the physical machinery that does the dirty work.

A unique stripper system for combine harvesters that strips grain and heads from plant stalks in situ (that is, harvesters on the move), was developed by a forerunner to BBSRC.

A rotor fitted at the front of the header has eight rows of stripping fingers that strip grain from the crop as the combine moves the head forwards while the rotor spins backwards. The rotor speed can be varied to suit to crop conditions, such as wetness for example. After the grain has been stripped by the rotor a series of deflectors within the header deflect the grain back into a conventional auger and pan.

I've got a new combine harvester with a grain stripper-header.
Image: Shelbourne-Reynolds

The system doubles harvesting rates, reduces grain losses, and enables earlier harvesting and harvesting in wetter weather.

Stripping the grain and leaving the straw in the field reduces the volume of crop material passing through the harvester, which allows a significant increase in work rate compared to a conventional cutter bar.

Research in Milan, Italy has showed that the minimum header loss in rice harvesting was 0.4% of the yield for the Ringo and Europa varieties, and 1.3% for the Panda variety.

The system has since been modified and used widely abroad and more than 4000 stripper headers have been sold across the world. Grain strippers are used for rice harvesting in Australia, Italy, and a special version is supplied to China to fit locally-built combines.