DragoTec, the company that brought one of the first chopping corn heads to the U.S. market in 2001, last month unveiled a new corn head called the Drago GT. The GT stands for “grand technology,” used in reference to a four-corner or “quad” suspension system built underneath the corn head’s self-adjusting deck plates.
The quad suspension acts like mini shock absorbers, absorbing the impact of the ear of corn as it hits the deck plate prior to being shelled. Less impact reduces shatter loss and lost kernels.
“This is the biggest thing that has hit the corn head market in probably 40 years.” DragoTec president Dennis Bollig during the official product launch last month at company headquarters in Fenton, IA.
Claim to fame
Drago corn heads are known for their self-adjusting deck plates, which automatically adjust to different stalk sizes as field conditions or seed varieties change. Set properly, the spacing between deck plates should be narrow enough to keep ears from butt shelling, but not so wide to allow small ears to fall through.
Bollig says hydraulic deck plates, in comparison, can’t react fast enough to changing conditions because of the input required by the operator.
“With hydraulic deck plates, the operator must make the decision [to adjust spacing] as they go across the field,” Bollig says. “From the combine cab you cannot see the deck plates, and you are guessing at best where to set spacing. Self-adjusting deck plates make that decision for you. And now, with quad suspension, you can reduce shelling losses even further by keeping the ear from bouncing.”
Kernels left on the ground can result in yield loss over time. According to an Iowa State Extension bulletin by Mark Hanna, over half of corn harvest losses occur at the cornhead and are not able to be measured by grain loss sensors on the rear of the combine. Two corn kernels per square foot or a single three-quarter pound ear in 436 square feet (0.01 acre) equals one bushel per acre of corn loss.
New and improved
The new Drago GT will carry over many of the features of the current Drago Series II cornhead. Bollig cites the self-adjusting deck plates, long knife rollers, and gathering chains designed to pick up downed corn.
But the Drago GT brings new features, too, the main one being the suspension system. Also new are two new chopper options: Twin chop plus, which uses a patented gearbox design that has two choppers with counter rotating knives in the same gearbox; and, a single chopper that can be turned on and off with a switch.
Other new features include a chainless drive system, spiral beveled gears for reduced energy losses, and individual slip clutches built into all components for added durability.
Buying an original
Lynn Bierstedt who attended the event, bought one of the first Drago corn heads sold in the U.S. in 2002 and still runs it today on his farm near Fenton, IA.
“I bought it for the corn chopping and later discovered the deck plates were an added plus,” Bierstedt says. “There’s less corn on the ground, and every bushel counts any more. I’ve been farming 14 years. That’s a lot of bushels.”
Bierstedt cited durability as another advantage. “I’m still running the original gathering chains on the corn head,” he says. “That’s quite an accomplishment.”
You can see the live demo of the Drago GT on the Farm Industry News Facebook page.
For more information visit dragotec.com.