Woken by the sound of machinery clinking and clanking really loudly outside our villa we (Philip and I) couldn’t help but wonder what was going on. Walking to the end of our road where the noise was coming from we found it to be farmers in the nearby field harvesting their crop. We watched the combine harvester go up and down the field cutting the crop and storing the grain. So interesting when standing close to the action!!
Once they had completed the cutting of the crop they were happy to tell us what they were doing and let us take photographs of the combine harvester in action. It was really interesting to learn what the crop was and what they did with it. We picked some grain from the road that had been dropped and took a sample of the wheat before it had been harvested. (see pictures below).
There are 2 parts to wheat – (1) seeds at the top of each plant (known as the grain) and (2) the rest of the plant (the chaff).
We returned home very curious about the wheat harvest and decided to find out a bit more about it:-
- The grain of the wheat can be ground into flour, if the raw wheat is broken into parts at the mill which is usually done the outer husk or bran can be used several ways
- wheat is a major ingredient in such foods as bread, pastries, donuts, breakfast cereals amongst many other uses
- Straw is a bi-product of wheat and cereal crop production. Straw is used for bedding for animals and can be used also for animal food, but as it has low nutrient value and would be used in addition to other animal fodder. Straw is still used for mattresses in many parts of the world
- The world trade in wheat is greater than for all other crops combined
As the combine harvester worked it separated the grain from the chaff which is left in the field to be dried and at a later stage/date baled.
There are three main types of bales that can be made, small square bales, large square bales and large round bales, depending on the type of baler used.
Before modern-day machines were developed, agricultural workers had to harvest crops by carrying out a series of laborious operations one after another. First they had to cut down the plants with a long-handled cutting tool such as a scythe. Next, they had to separate the edible grain from the inedible chaff by beating the cut stalks—an operation known as threshing. Finally, they had to clean any remaining debris away from the seeds to make them suitable for use in a mill. All this took a lot of time and a lot of people.
The complete process these days is performed automatically and all that has to be done is simply drive the combine harvester through a field of crops and it cuts, threshes and cleans the grains all by itself using rotating blades, wheels, sieves, and elevators. The grain collects in a tank inside the combine harvester (which is periodically emptied into trucks/carts while the chaff spurts from a big exit pipe at the back and falls back down onto the field.
The inside “arm” of the combine harvester is like a cork screw which turns and forces the grain through it to load it onto the truck. You can see from the pictures below how the grain starts to fall in a spiral effect.