Soybean farmers harvesting with Case-IH axial-flow combines share a common complaint: roping. Their combine rotors wind the stem of the soybean plant instead of slicing it, creating a bean straw rope that lays out behind the machine, making no-till farming difficult and disking almost essential for double cropping. When Soybean breeders developed early-maturing varieties to reduce the shattering of beans during harvest they improved bean yield, but they inadvertently added to the roping problem. The stems of the new varieties are usually green and tough at harvest, nearly impossible to separate with a regular rotor.
Don Estes, as an agricultural equipment welder near the corn and soybean fields of central Illinois, heard farmers repeatedly complaining about roping during harvest and figured out a solution. “What I did was put some cutters in the keystock grate section of the rotor where they will cut the straw as it begins wrapping or roping,” Estes explained. The cutters consist of nine steel lugs laid out in a circular pattern on the keystock grate and bolted into place. Made of 3/4-inch steel, the lugs have a 55 rockwell hardness material applied to each face or front. The straw, after being thrashed over the concave section of the rotor, continues into the keystock grate where it meshes with the sharp lugs and is “disrupted” “The lugs can be installed in the keystock grate without the grates,” Estes pointed out. “Installation takes about half an hour.”
Naming his invention “The Disrupter,” Estes made and tested six different sets in 1994 before going into commercial production on the product in 1995. It is now installed on more than 1220 combines in 24 states for use primarily on soybeans and corn. “The Disrupter pulverizes the corn shucks that would otherwise flow out the back of the combine, taking a lot of kernels with them. Some growers have reported increased yields because of this,” Estes noted.
On soybeans, The Disrupter cuts stems into 4- to 8-inch pieces, preventing roping and allowing the straw spreader to spread more evenly. It also reduces rotor rumbling caused by inefficient feeding.
The Disrupter lugs have been designed for both keystock grates and the earlier flat grates of Case-IH combines. On conventional rotors, a notched Casse-IH green maze bar or the “Scallop” bar made by Estes must be added to the rotor to make it more aggressive, swinging the straw past the lugs to increase the effieiency of The Disrupter.
The Disrupter for $440 and the Scallop Bar for $225-$300.