Combine Harvester: Difficult to use in 3rd World country?

Combined harvester is an important agricultural machinery which is a versatile machine designed to efficiently harvest a variety of grain crops. Three types of separate harvesting operation- reaping, threshing, and winnowing are done through this machine, so it is called ‘Combine Harvester’. Different crops like paddy, wheat, oats, rye, barley, corn (maize), sorghum, soybeans, flax (linseed), sunflowers and canola are generally harvested using combined harvester.

Rice and wheat are the most important and staple food of Bangladesh. At present, rice and wheat production is about 30.52 million ton over an area of 11.73 million hectares. More than 80% of the cultivable land is under rice and wheat cultivation (Talukder, 2013). Almost allamount of these crops are harvested manually by sickle which is laborious, time consuming and costly. Harvesting and threshing are the most important operations in the entire range of field This machinery helps to minimize the labor cost and time by doing multiple operation at a time at a short range of time. In Bangladesh, this machine is being used for rice harvesting nowadays which indicates that the agricultural mechanization of Bangladesh. But comparing with the other countries, Bangladesh is retrograded in this agricultural mechanization.


Causes for not being Mechanized:

There are some causes of this retrograde situation such as economic condition, utilization of proper machine, availability of services. Moreover, the terminal farmers are not used to shift the traditional harvesting method into mechanized one. There is also another major problem which is related to economy, that is unemployed labor problem. By using combined harvester one can do the work of 3-4 people at a time reducing the harvesting cost and time. But it creates economic imbalance. Country like Bangladesh has a major population who are connected with labor business at a reasonable price. As mechanization in agricultural sector will increase, these people will become unemployed because the farmers will not hire them for reaping, threshing, and winnowing.
But the main reason for not using the combined harvester is the initial cost of combined harvester is very high and also the size of combined harvester is huge, because of these reasons this machine is only being used for commercial farms or in mills, not in individuals among the farmers.

Field survey and present condition: From a recent field survey, it has been known that a combined harvester with minimum functions and engine requirement costs at least TK.2000000 and something more. There will also extra charges for other specializations and services. This amount of money is a huge money for an individual farmer. An average farmer from Bangladesh can barely bare the expenditures of buying and maintaining this huge machine.
Almost 100% farmers are interested and happy for using combine harvester on custom hiring basis. They expressed the following reasons of their satisfaction and also opined the disadvantages in using combine harvester.


combine harvester
Combine harvester


Advantages of Combine Harvester:

(a) Combine harvesting reduces the human drudgery
(b) It is very quick harvesting method
(c) Harvesting, threshing and winnowing are done at a time and no space is required for threshing and winnowing
(d) It saves the crop from natural calamities as well as shattering loss due to over maturity
(e) It reduces grain loss compared to conventional harvesting, threshing and winnowing methods
(f) It reduces the dependency of scarce farm labor during peak harvesting season. It also reduces turnaround time for planting next crop
(g) Harvesting cost is lower than those of manual harvesting, threshing and winnowing of crops.


Disadvantage of Combine Harvester:

(a) There is less number of road for transportation of combine harvester through crop field and canal .
(b) The price is not affordable and too high to the farmers
(c) Sometimes mechanical disturbances occurred during operation of the machine.
(d) It is difficult to harvest inclined (>45o) crops with these types of machines.
(e) Rice straw is partially and wheat straw is fully damaged and spread out in the field
(f) For the small plots, harvesting by combine harvester is difficult. Corner of the field cannot be harvested properly with them.
(g) If mud in field is more than 15 cm depth and sticky, in such situation harvesters cannot work. Combine harvester is not readily available during the peak harvesting season.
(h) Spare parts and skill mechanic are scarce in the rural areas for repair and maintenance of combine harvester
(i) The Lack of trained operator for efficient field operation of combine harvester and other agricultural machineries.



With further conversion with some rural farmers from the different regions of Bangladesh, I have also come to know that the combined harvester needs a large garage place and it can’t be just kept outside or carelessly like other machineries. But it is hard and also costly to make such garage in rural area. It is not impossible but hard enough.
The alternative solution for this problem has been discovered by making miniature versions of combined harvester, those are smaller compared to the main combined harvester and has a cheaper price. This version of combined harvester was designed in order to solve the problems of the farmers in rural area. These mini-combined harvester costs TK.10 lakh per unit and also has a relatively cheaper servicing charge.
With such problem solving design, these mini combined harvesters could have a greater sell. But these products are not getting expected sell rate. People are not interested in buying combined harvester. It seems more improvements and change should be done in this sector.




Written By:

Tarin Tabaschum

Undergraduate Student

Agricultural Engineering & Technology

Sylhet Agricultural University

[email protected]


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