Mechanical Harvesting Field Day (Lessons Learnt)!

In order for a Mechanical Harvesting Project to work the following points must be considered:

1. The chopper harvester has the potential of cutting 400-600 tons per day. If the harvester is to be economically feasible, the minimum it requires to cut is 200 tons per day at 30-60 tons per hour.
2. The chopper harvester can harvest both green (unburnt) and burnt cane. It must be clear that machine cut cane will in most cases be lower in quality than hand cut, but fresher. The increase in efficiency should offset any reduction in quality.
3. Fields need to be 1.8 meter straight, symmetric and uniformly spaced rows free of stumps and rocks.
The key to mechanical operations is uniformity. Cultivation is not flat but slightly bedded.
4. Land needs to be flat (less than or equal to 8-10% slope).
5. A full track chopper harvester needs a Low-Boy to transport it to the location of cutting. Rubber tire models are more mobile but less stable.
6. During cutting the chopper harvester requires a tractor and tipping trailer or to feed directly into a truck.
7. Billeted cane requires rapid kill to mill to avoid deterioration. Billeted cane deteriorates faster than long stick due to the surface area exposed. Trucks should avoid long waits at the queue. Billet loads have higher density which equals to less ventilation.
8. A harvesting schedule needs to be carefully planned to be able to harvest cane with the highest maturity.
9. The cost is to be determined by the contractor for specific fields as it is based on several factors.
10. The harvester has several important adjustments. Some of these will be done during idle season repairs and others ongoing and in accordance to field conditions (angle, base cutter blades, feed roller speeds, base cutter height, billet size, primary and secondary extractor fan rpm, and forward ground speed). It is clear that field conditions and cane lodging are site specific and therefore the machine operator must respond accordingly.


Posted on June 12, 2017 .