Bright, sparkling red paint on a new combine was a thrilling sight, even to Auburn University researchers who usually prefer orange and blue. The Sand Mountain Research and Extension Center purchased the plot combine with the assistance of checkoff funds from the Alabama Farmers Federation State Soybean and State Wheat & Feed Grains committees.
“I can’t thank (the state committees) enough,” said Dr. Joyce Tredaway Ducar, Sand Mountain Research and Extension Center director. “I would love for any members of the committees to stop by so we can show them the combine and thank them personally for what they’ve done for us.”
The machine looks like a pint-sized combine and is equipped with a two-row crop header for soybeans and a two-row corn header. Previously, the research center relied on a 1960s model combine to harvest soybean test plots and borrowed a combine from the Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center for corn plot harvests.
“There are a lot of benefits to having this new plot combine — the greatest being improved efficiency,” Ducar said. “We’ve reduced our labor force from five people to two (for harvesting). We’ve reduced time in the field, and we’re getting better samples. Farmers will benefit from more accurate data, and we can do more tests because we have more time to harvest.”
Test plots such as those at the Experiment Station are used to evaluate new crop varieties, planting techniques and fertility recommendations. They also gauge insect and disease control methods and record optimum planting and harvesting times.
The plot combine was produced by Kincaid Equipment Manufacturing and cost more than $270,000. The Federation’s State Soybean and Wheat & Feed Grains committees funded more than 75 percent of the purchase through their checkoff programs.
“We were glad to do our part, and we’re always glad to help however we can,” said State Soybean Committee Chairman and Sumter County farmer Pat Buck. “This is how we make our living, and we should help our own cause. This is money well spent.”
Farmers who sell wheat, corn, grain sorghum or oats in Alabama pay one cent per bushel toward the checkoff, while the soybean checkoff is calculated as a percentage of the overall value of the sale.
“All farmers who grow grain participated in the purchase of this equipment through the checkoff,” said Federation Soybean and Wheat & Feed Grains Divisions Director Buddy Adamson. “Our producers understand the need for good research data because experiment stations provide vital information to farmers that can help improve their crops. Improved research data from the Sand Mountain center will be a real asset to farmers.”
The new combine also has increased storage capacity, allowing researchers to conduct tests on a larger scale.
“I hope we have this one until I retire,” Ducar said. “I hope it’s the only one I need to purchase...but I would have loved to have it painted orange and blue.”