Airflow protects pulse pods from combine loss

BRANDON — Spending $15,000 on a combine accessory that can save you five bushels of beans per acre is a smart investment.

And that’s not a lot of hot air, according to AWS Airbar rep Carmen Drost, who said the Airbar uses an airflow up to 320 km-h to blow beans and pulse crops up into the header before pods have a chance to fall to the ground.

“In soybeans, you’ll save from one to five bu. per acre. In a good growing year, when the beans are nice and tall, you’ll only save one bu. When the beans are short and dry, growers say they save five plus bu.,” Drost said.

“It’s designed for crops like peas, lentils and other low-growing pulses. The airflow captures the shattered pods coming off the mechanical reel. It saves those really low pods that otherwise sit on your sickle bar. The airflow blows them onto the auger or draper head before they have a chance to fall to the ground.

“Air speed depends on conditions. In the heat of the day in dry conditions and really dry beans, you may turn your air speed down to 120 to 150 m.p.h. (200 to 240 km-h). Too much air will blow the beans away.”

Drost said AWS makes a system for every make and model of combine and sizes from 15 to 50 feet. The 50-foot heads are relatively new, but they do have a system for them, he added. Until recently, 45 feet had been their largest size and their best sellers had been 35 and 40 feet.

There’s an electric actuator to regulate airflow to the head and another one to control where the air hits the knife. The nozzle height is adjustable from the cab. Although the system was originally intended for pulse growers, many operators leave the Airbar on the combine when they get into their cereal crops because it also helps save those seeds.

“We use the same fan on everything from the 15-foot to the 45-foot models, but with baffles to control the air volume for each size,” he said.

“The fan is all steel. Everything else is aluminum to keep the weight down. Most of the money is the fan. After that, it’s just a lot of aluminum duct work.”

The impeller, blower-type fan is powered from the power take-off drive on the right-hand side of the header by a 63 inch, four strand, wide-profile V-belt.

Airbar prices range from $12,000 to $15,000 for the units, which are built in Mitchell, Ont.

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