In 1923 it took a crew of 12 people to cut, bind, thresh, and bag grain for storage.
That was the same year that Curtis, Edwin, and Ernest Baldwin developed the Gleaner combine to make harvesting more efficient, less labour intensive and more enjoyable for the farmer. Fast forward 100 years and the Gleaner brand combine is now celebrating its centennial anniversary.
Throughout the course of 2023, AGCO is celebrating the Baldwin Brothers and their achievements. Aaron Beyer, marketing product specialist for Gleaner combines, says the Baldwin brothers, who farmed in central Kansas and ran a custom harvesting crew, recognized the productivity and economic benefits of combining harvest practices. In this interview at the National Farm Machinery Show at Louisville, Kentucky, Beyer tells RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin how the Baldwins developed the combine and how their principles today still help guide production of Gleaner combines.
“It’s a design principle that we had from the beginning with Curtis Baldwin — gradual, incremental improvements to make the machine more reliable, more efficient, and increase the capacity,” says Beyer who notes that the brand has always maintained a keen focus on the return on investment Gleaner combines deliver for farmers. “We don’t make big jumps to different flashy designs for machines. We have a principle, we have a design that we trust, and we make those incremental improvements to try to help our operators.”
Beyer says the evolution of Gleaner combines was really driven by response and feedback from those who depended most on the machines — farmers and custom harvesters.
Gleaner combines were the first to incorporate a rasp bar threshing cylinder located directly after the header. This design created more consistent threshing and allowed for a larger cleaning area in a smaller machine. Visibility and comfort are also seen as critical requirements for Gleaner combine operators, as the brand continues to feature a centre-line mounted cab and rear engine deck — rather than front-mounted engines and off-set cabs favoured by other manufacturers.
To provide more efficiency and productivity to keep pace with changing agricultural process, Gleaner also introduced the first 12-row corn head and the industry’s first and only transverse rotary combine. The combine’s 100-year timeline also includes the first draper head with a fully flexible cutter bar and the first Class 8 transverse rotary combine.
In the interview, Beyer discusses how the current series of Gleaner combines continues the traditions established by the Baldwin brothers. (See below.)
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