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An expert harvest.

The grain combine is the most complicated and expensive field machine widely used on U.S. farms. This machine cuts down the plants, separates grain from stalks, removes dust and dirt, stores the grain and dumps the stalks. Although combines can handle a variety of crops, such as corn, wheat and soybeans, they must be specially adjusted for each one. In addition, the machines must adapt to changing field conditions, sometimes several times a day. Already, on the newest models, microprocessors automatically make some of the adjustments. Soon, farmers may also have the help of an electronic "expert" to advise them on what to do out in the field.

At this week's International Computers in Engineering Conference in Boston, researchers from Texas A&M University in College Station described a prototype, computer-based system that suggests ways of handling field problems like damaged grain kernels or incomplete separation of grain and stalk. Installed on a combine, the system, using a voice synthesizer, asks the combine operator a series of questions that usually require nothing more than a yes or no answer. After going through this process, the operator finds out how to readjust his machine. This approach, the researchers report, takes much less time than looking up the information in a manual.
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Title Annotation:computer-based system for operating grain combine
Publication:Science News
Date:Aug 10, 1985
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