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Potato growers prepare for yet more difficult harvests

Scotts Precision Manufacturing in the UK reports a significant surge in windrower kits and “retro fit” Evolution separator sales. With the potato industry having to adapt to a host of market changes and an increasingly changing weather pattern, potato growers have been looking seriously at their wet weather harvesting capacity.

“Over the last 8 years or so we have seen an increasing number of growers leaving crop in the field and at times here in Lincolnshire as much as 50%. Almost all growers have lost some crop over the last decade due to adverse weather now being the norm,” says Derek Scott, managing director of Scotts.

“Having been in the industry for almost 40 years working with relatively basic harvesting machinery compared to these days, I am staggered that we seem to have gone backwards in managing our potato lifting,” Derek points out. “Of course the weather is the primary factor, and most of all the relentless topping up of rain in already saturated fields. Whilst we cannot control this, we can prepare better for future harvests both in the field and store. Increasing lifting capacity is an obvious one with many more of the larger growers now adopting self propelled harvesters and more recently the addition of windrowers. The latter providing a significant benefit when opening out fields in wet conditions.”

The latest Grimme GT170 extended cross conveyor conversion allows up to 8 rows to be gently lifted and deposited into adjacent rows without moving the crop twice, creating plenty of space for the following harvester and trailers to operate without fear of “nipping” the un-lifted rows, eliminating the need for an opening-out trailer with narrow wheels.

“It is universally accepted now that windrowing correctly will reduce damage overall – by filling the sieving webs and reducing roll back,” says Derek Scott. “Furthermore the windrower generally lifts more crop per day than the harvester, for 2 main reasons. The windrower never has to wait for trailers to be in position and can start  sooner in the day to create an opening yet only needs to be a few yards ahead at the end of the lifting period.”

Off the back of another challenging lifting season there has been a real surge towards upgrading in-store equipment too with a distinct focus on better cleaning.

“We think there is a 2 fold driver behind this,” says Derek Scott. “In the first part its really about dealing with high soil and clod content, inevitable when we are lifting in extreme conditions but Its also about those marginal days where lifting is going reasonably well but you might be only performing at 70 or 80% of capacity from the grader. Our customers are asking for the ultimate in cleaning systems to make every day as close to 100% efficient as possible.”

“These days we fit much larger systems in graders with 6 and 8 rows common place and the occasional 10 row where space allows. We offer a full turn key solution ourselves here in Boston and through our dealer network. The investment cost of a high performance cleaning system compared to the value of crop in the ground negligible. Yet quite possible the most important part of the chain and certainly the most labour saving and definitely worth some consideration”

Scotts Precision Manufacturing can be contacted anytime:
Derek Scott on his mobile no. 07831 757283
Office 01205 270 128
Or on any social media platform.

The video below can also be watched on YouTube here.

Source: Scotts Precision Manufacturing Ltd

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse

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