A participatory approach towards improving industry sector profits through improved harvesting efficiency : SRDC final report BSS227
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Recent productivity gains through the introduction of high yielding varieties, green cane harvesting, improved drainage and irrigation have resulted in larger, mostly lodged crops with increased suckering. As a result, ccs levels have declined, dirt in supply and extraneous matter levels have increased, and stool damage at harvest is obvious. Growers do not always connect their role in crop presentation to ease of harvest and resultant cane quality. Failure to hill up plant cane adequately and match it to harvester basecutter angle; inconsistent row spacing and lack of attention to farm layout, headlands and haul roads are the main deficiencies. Harvester operators and harvest crews may also have goals conflicting with cane quality and quality of ground job. The standard system of harvester payment, which is based on $/tonne, rewards speed of operation. Stool damage, cane loss and poor billet quality result. The mills? transport limitations and need for continuous supply may impose restrictions on harvesting where by the harvester must deliver a fixed quantity of cane within a short time frame. This can result in poor ground job and higher cane losses (because fan speed is increased in an attempt to achieve cleaning at high pour rates). Short and damaged billets can result from pressure to achieve high pour rates and high bin weights. Encouraging harvesting under wet conditions results in field damage. The viability of the north Queensland sugar industry is in jeopardy. Industry leaders believe there are large productivity and profitability gains to be made by adopting harvesting best practice (HBP).
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