Checklist: Calibrate Your Yield Monitor and Collect More Accurate Data

by Cole Condra – Customer Success Manager, Growers

Harvest is here for many farmers across the country, and it’s important for all farmers to calibrate their yield monitors before and throughout the growing season.

However, we still see many farmers not calibrating their yield monitors correctly. Unfortunately, this can lead to inaccurate data, gut-based decision making, and poor post-harvest yield map analysis.

Growers understands multiple calibrations can be time-consuming and frustrating, but they’re necessary if you want to make the best, most profitable decisions for your farm. 

To make sure you get the most out of your ag technology, here’s what you need to know about yield monitor calibration. We’ve also included a step-by-step checklist you can follow to make sure you’re doing it right. 

When to Calibrate Your Yield Monitor 

The calibration process should be conducted at the beginning of every harvest season and periodically throughout the season during the following conditions:

  • If you haven’t run the combine for a while because of breakdowns or weather
  • Crop type changes
  • Significant changes in crop moisture
  • Changes in field conditions

What to Do Before the Calibration Process

First, check all your cables, connections, and sensors for wear or damage. Make sure all the wiring and harnesses are free from damage and have tight connections. All components of your combine should be clean and in good working condition. 

If you don’t follow these steps, data will likely be inaccurate. Once you check, clean, and repair all the components, the calibration process for each sensor can begin.

How to Calibrate Your Yield Monitors

Once you’re ready to start the calibration process, check out our step-by-step checklist below (remember to refer to your yield monitor’s manual for the correct sequence for your specific monitor).

  1. Calibrate Mass-Flow Sensor Vibration
  • Ensure the correct header is attached to the combine.
  • Make sure there’s no grain in the tank.
  • Engage the separator and header.
  • Run the combine at full RPM.

2. Calibrate the Temperature

  • Calibrate when the combine has been sitting for multiple hours, preferably in a shaded area (for example, in a shop or lean-to).
  • Use an accurate thermometer to record the outside air temperature.
  • Record the reading in the monitor.

3. Calibrate the Header Height Sensor

  • Raise the header all the way up and notify the monitor that it is all the way up.
  • Lower the header all the way down and notify the monitor that it is all the way down.
  • Enter the percentage of height at which you want to cut.

4. Calibrate Ground Speed Sensor

  • Many yield monitors today use GPS for ground speed, but if a mechanical ground speed sensor is being used as a backup, calibrate this sensor.
  • Calibrate this sensor by traveling over a known distance and determining how long it takes.
  • Calibrate this sensor in normal field conditions due to tire slippage.


5. Calibrate the Moisture Sensor 

  • Select a small sample of grain and use a hand moisture meter to sample it. 
  • Enter the moisture data into the monitor so it can self-adjust.

6. Put the Combine Into Calibration Mode

  • Once the combine is in calibration mode, start picking, and continue until the monitor reports it has picked between 3,000-6,000 lbs.
  • Next, unload the harvested crop into a cart or truck, so the actual weight of the grain can be measured.
  • Once the actual weight is measured, enter the actual weight into the yield monitor. It’ll adjust the monitored yield to match.
  • Perform this step 3 to 4 times at various speeds to guarantee optimum accuracy.  
  • Recalibrate for every 3 to 4 points of moisture change and before switching from one crop to another.

How Proper Calibration Leads to Quality Data

Remember, it’s not about quantity but quality when using data to make informed agronomic decisions. Shortcuts and mistakes can significantly impact the accuracy of yield map data, so it’s essential to take the time to do it right before the harvest begins and throughout the season. 

If you still have questions or issues, contact our customer service department at 984-500-3797 or email info@growers.ag.