Assessing harvest losses; evaluating potential damage to sugarbeets caused by harvesting and piling equipment using an Impact Recording Device

Zandstra, J.W.
Squire, R.C.
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University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus

This project had the following objectives:

  1. Record and identify points of highest impact on a range of sugarbeet harvesters and determine if they are damaging.
  2. If identified, make adjustments and/or modifications to harvesting equipment to minimize damaging impacts.
  3. Record and identify points of highest impact on sugarbeet piling equipment and determine if they are damaging.
  4. If identified, make adjustments and/or modifications to piling equipment to minimize damaging impacts.
  5. Assess the harvest losses of different types of sugarbeet harvesters under a range of harvesting conditions to see if improvements can be made.
From the Executive Summary: As harvested, topped sugar beets are stored, sugar is lost due to respiration (consumption) by the living beet root. Mechanical injury affects storage losses of beets because of increased respiration rates, as well as providing an entry point for storage rots. In order to reduce tare dirt, sugar beets are exposed to a series of rollers and belts during harvest and piling. If the sugar beet is cracked and bruised, research has shown that respiration rates are higher and sugar loss greater than undamaged sugar beets. Under experimental conditions, severely damaged beets had a respiration rate 4 time that of undamaged beets Impact Recording Devices (IRD) are sensors designed to identify locations in fruit and vegetable harvesting and processing equipment which cause damage to produce. They are spherical, self contained sensors which are similar in shape to the product and are sent through harvesting equipment and processing lines to record locations where high impacts are experienced. These units were sent through sugarbeet harvesters and piling equipment and measured the impacts experienced by the sugarbeets. This enables the operator to make changes or adjustments to the equipments to minimize potential damage Sugarbeets left in the field as whole beets missed or dropped by the harvester or displaced by topping equipment can represent significant losses to a producer. Other losses include damaged beets which break up and fall through chains, or “tails” (tips of tap root) which remain in the soil after harvest. Speed of harvest is often blamed for high harvest losses. Losses of over 1 ton/acre are considered excessive and should be addressed. The largest impacts on pilers are noted at points where beets drop from an elevator to another surface. Generally, the drop to the boom taking the beet to the pile produces the greatest impact. A beet spends the least time in the Artsway and Tiger harvesters when compared to the Vervaet harvesters. Maximum and average impacts are least for the Tiger, intermediate for the Artsway and greatest for the Vervaet harvester in 2007.
sugarbeet, beta vulgaris, harvest loss, impact recording, sugar