Dr. Harvest makes field calls to solve harvesting problems

Martin Reichelt helps farmers get the best performance out of their combine. | Robin Booker photo

BRANDON — Martin Reichelt, a.k.a. Doctor Harvest, is an engineer who specializes in fine-tuning combines. Although he lives in Germany, he travels to Canada whenever his list of patients merits.

Reichelt was at Manitoba AgDays this winter, working with the BushelPlus company at its display.

“I make the trip to Canada a couple times a year, but mainly my customers are in Russia and Kazakhstan,” says Reichelt, who goes on to explain what he does when confronting a new combine.

“First, I look at a farmer’s soil and the crops he grows and his yields. Then we make sure he has the right combine and the right head for the job. If the customer has bought the wrong header for what he tries to accomplish, then I tell him right away so we don’t waste anybody’s time.”

Once the client has secured the right combine and header combination, Reichelt begins a two-day one-on-one clinic to teach the grower things he needs to know to get the best performance out of the machine and any subsequent combines he buys.

“First then, I look at the settings to find mistakes from the factory. The next step is teaching how to set up the head correctly. That takes at least five or six hours. We make a list of knives and other things the farmer must buy in the future when it’s time for replacements. In Canada, I find 90 percent of the combines use the wrong knives.

“Most times they use the big tooth in cereals. The big tooth should only be for peas and canola and soybeans, not for grain. Farmers don’t want to take the time to change the sickles, and that’s a problem. If you want more yield in your bin, you must change your knives. It’s best to check them every morning, then when you find a bad knife, you change it to the correct one, so you don’t have to do them all at once.

“In Canada, dividers are the big problem with the belt header. Everybody has problems with the dividers. I know that. They block and make a jam. The jam falls over the side on the field or it comes into the combine and the combine can’t work on a bad jam. Then, you again get losses with the sieves or with the rotary. I show customers how they can rebuild the dividers to make them work better. If you have an auger, you must adjust the height different for every crop.”

Table length is also important. He says an extension table is essential when straight-cutting canola, but few people know about them. German-built extension tables are available from John Deere dealerships. Reichelt says feeder chain tension is the same for all crops, but it should be checked every morning because even one long day of combining can stretch it too much.

Reichelt says that once an operator becomes accustomed to changing these header adjustments between crops, it should only take 20 minutes if two people work on it. It helps if the operator has made marks at the optimal adjustment points. He says it’s a small price to pay in exchange for potentially saving hundreds of bushels.

“Next, it depends on what combine we have, we control the concaves, then we control the threshing area, the rasp bars. And that’s too much to explain today. I teach all that information at my clinic. If it goes smoothly, a good clinic takes 22 hours.”

Reichelt accepts only 10 people at a time to each clinic and charges $200 per hour, plus travel.

He can be contacted through his website at www.power-harvesting.com.

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