Commercial scale economic evaluation of post-harvest cane cleaning to maximise the returns to the supply shain : final report 2016/953
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This project examined three cane supply treatments; Commercial harvesting, Low Loss harvesting and Low Loss Harvesting plus cleaning; to determine if post-harvest cane cleaning offered benefits over harvesting alone. As a basic concept, it was expected that reducing harvester extractor fan speed would reduce cane loss, resulting in increased CCS yield but also increased trash content, and that the post-harvest cane cleaning operation would remove the additional trash, maintaining the higher CCS yield. To facilitate this project, a mobile cane cleaner (MCC) was purchased from Norris ECT by SRA. The MCC was leased by the project from SRA. Major modifications to the cleaning chamber of the NorrisECT 180 mobile cane cleaner (MCC 180) were necessary. The MCC was a prototype machine not suitable for commercial use. The results did support the expectation of higher CCS yield with lower extractor fan speed, but much of the higher yield measured by low loss harvesting was lost after post-harvest cane cleaning. Economic analysis quantified harvesting costs and the resulting product income. In an experiment on Rajinder Singh’s farm, the treatment with post-harvest cane cleaning was found to be less economically attractive than the normal harvesting treatment, even with the lower transport cost in getting cane to Mossman Mill, a distance of 95 km. The project did not measure an increase in CCS yield from the low loss harvesting plus cane cleaning treatment to improve upon sugar income.