Tips for harvesting profits

PRODUCTION LOSS: New research has indicated current harvester set-ups are losing tonnage.
PRODUCTION LOSS: New research has indicated current harvester set-ups are losing tonnage. Peter Holt

A PRODUCTION loss through harvesting is something all operators, contractors and growers should keep in the forefront of their minds as the industry moves into pre-harvest maintenance mode.

At this time of the year growers, operators and contractors are taking the time to maintain and tune their harvesting machinery, and it is timely to remember the potential for sometimes significant losses incurred through the harvesting process.

As an industry we have struggled in the past 15-20 years to find our next step change in production processes as we have seen productivity decline significantly in that period.

Most are well aware of the losses that can be sustained through the harvesting process and the value chain from the grower right through to marketing.

As growers, we owe it to ourselves to ensure our hard toil does not get left in the field through a lack of willingness to recognise and fine-tune problems with our harvesting equipment.

Testing carried out by Cam Whiteing, a mechanical engineer with Sugar Research Australia, last year showed that in 30% of the current harvester set-ups, losses of 8-10 tonnes/ha were not uncommon.

During these trials adjustments were made to the equipment, resulting in a drop in losses to a more acceptable 2t/ha range.

Harvesting losses have already been identified by the industry to be a major problem.

This has resulted in the ongoing thorough investigation of causes and solutions to remedy the problem through our new industry research body SRA.

Both Mackay Area Productivity Services Limited and PCPSL Plane Creek Productivity Services Limited have processes in place that can run in conjunction with harvester owners to determine the extent of losses through their machines.

Identification of the extent of those losses and the root of the cause can then be targeted to increase the amount of cane that reaches the mill.

The sugar industry is as competitive as any industry and therefore needs its stakeholders to recognise that an increase of up to 10% is something that cannot be ignored.

One of the quickest ways to improve a farm's bottom line is to have the result of farm inputs harvested and sent to the mill.

Topics:  farm machinery harvesting maintenance