Improving industry returns through harvest best practice : final report 2014/091
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In NSW the perception was that in field harvesting losses were unacceptably high and were a result of poor harvesting practices (excessive ground and fan speeds), inadequate harvester set up (no toppers), poor crop presentation (yields and profile), field conditions (wet harvest) and excessive bin allocations (high pour rates). The principles of harvest best practice have been established over many years and are summarised in the SRA publication Harvesting Best Practice Manual: Technical Publication MN14001. These have been developed mainly in green cane in Queensland and there were questions around their applicability to NSW - particularly in 2 year old burnt cane. Some work done with BSES in 2013 confirmed that extractor losses were less of an issue and that further work was required in reducing pickup losses; improving row profiles and crop presentation; and determining the effect of high ground speeds on productivity (ratoonability). It was recognised that engagement with growers and the harvesting sector was vital and that NSW specific information needed to be gathered to support any decisions that were made in relation to harvesting practices in NSW. The intention was to use the information collected through this project to develop and trial modified commercial arrangements that ensured the viability of the harvesting sector and equitably distributed the benefits of changed practice to growers, harvest groups and the mill. This three year SRA funded project sought to quantify these changes in NSW and in particular in burnt cane in both the 1 year old and 2 year old systems.