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Harvesting groups — The key to improving harvesting practice

Patane, P., Milford, B., Landers, G., Thompson, M., Nothard, B., Norris, C. A. and Venables, C. (2019) Harvesting groups — The key to improving harvesting practice. In: 41st Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologists Conference, ASSCT 2019, 30 April - 3 May 2019, University of Southern Queensland (USQ)Toowoomba; Australia.

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Abstract

In the 2017 and 2018 crushing seasons, Sugar Research Australia Limited (SRA) conducted a project to assist harvesting groups to reduce sugar loss. The principles of harvesting practice to reduce loss have been well known in the industry for many years. However, at the start of the 2017 season few harvesting groups were operating according to these principles. The harvesting adoption team concluded that there were several socio-economic impediments to harvester operators changing practice, but that many of these could be overcome by working with individual harvesting groups (a harvester owner and the farmers serviced) as these could make decisions on changing arrangements. A demonstration trial evaluating sugar loss from a suite of harvester settings (typically commercial standard, recommended (guided by harvesting best practice (HBP) principles), aggressive and ‘low-loss’ control) was provided for each group involved, with all group members encouraged to attend. This was followed up with at least one workshop where the trial results and economic analysis were presented and groups were encouraged to consider improving harvester setup, optimising harvester settings to reduce loss and changing harvesting payment arrangements. In 2017, 43 groups were involved, and a further 52 in 2018. To date, the uptake of HBP harvester settings has been impressive. Groups that participated in the demonstration trials had, on average, reduced both fan speed and pour rates. Unfortunately, 50% of participants continued to operate above the generic recommended rates, which is reflective of the need for a robust estimate of the cost and benefits of harvesting to allow improved payment arrangements and acceptance by harvesting groups. Of the 40 groups for which data is currently available, 25 groups had optimised their harvester feed trains, 11 had installed after-market (low loss) choppers, 6 groups had changed payment arrangements and 20 were considering or negotiating changed payment arrangements. Many participants are now supporters of best practice; they accept that sugar losses are real, significant and able to be addressed. It is intended to continue this project into the 2019 through to 2022 seasons. © 2019 Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologists. All rights reserved.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Business groups:Agriculture
Keywords:Adoption Economics Harvesting best practice Harvesting costs Profitability Sugar loss Cost benefit analysis Costs Economic analysis Engineers Harvesters Sugar cane Best practices Commercial standards Cost and benefits Harvester operators Socio-economics Harvesting
Subjects:Plant culture > Harvesting, curing, storage
Plant culture > Field crops > Sugar plants
Deposited On:05 Mar 2020 00:49
Last Modified:05 Mar 2020 00:49

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