A non-stop way to lift em
FOR Cornish farmer and contractor Richard Olds the potato lifting season typically starts on July 5 and is all over by the middle of August.
Operating within a six-mile radius of Camborne, he offers a complete potato planting and harvesting service, and this year has lifted 220 acres of early Record and Pentland Dell with a pair of Kverneland twin-row trailed harvesters – a 2420 and 2220.
A dry, trouble-free year has made the need for two machines something of a luxury and harvesting time has been further reduced through the use of a "Non-Stop" harvesting system.
Last season was Mr Olds first with the system, which he purchased to cope with an increased acreage and to improve the grading of the lifted crop.
"I was using two single row SGB Hasia harvesters, and graded on the machines. Potatoes of 40mm and below were left behind, and, although we achieved the grade, I knew I needed to change the system to meet the demands of the merchant and reduce the number of potatoes left in the field."
The "Non-Stop" option on the harvesters was relatively inexpensive, and initially chosen because Mr Olds saw it as a good system for opening up a field.
In operation, it allows the operator to deposit the lifted crop as a windrow between the adjacent un-lifted rows. They are then lifted with these rows at the next pass, enabling field margins to be cleared without having to run a trailer "in-crop".
"We found we could run at the same forward speed lifting two rows or lifting two rows plus the windrow from the previous pass," says Mr Olds. "Now we keep lifting – the driver simply switching to Non-Stop mode as the collecting trailer is filled. That way we can just keep going, switching out of Non-Stop as soon as a trailer is available."
Apart from allowing the harvesters to run without stopping, the system has also reduced the number of trailers required from four to three. Now the harvester lifts for about 20 minutes and loads for about 10.
It is a system which also proved a useful asset last year when lifting a wet crop. By leaving windrowed potatoes for about 15 minutes on the surface, they would dry a little and clean more easily.
Passing half the crop through the harvester twice increases the chance of damage but Mr Olds has not found this to be a problem.
"One of the men working on the picking-off tables has noticed a slight increase in damage of those potatoes that had been windrowed and re-lifted, but there has been no problems with achieving an acceptable sample."
The Kverneland "Non-Stop" system requires a full-width lifting share system. As a factory fitted option on a full width machine it will add £850 to the price of a harvester in the 1500mm web 2200 series. A retro-fit kit, including full width share and half diablos, is £1750 and can be used to convert existing standard machines in the range.
The "Non-Stop" option for 1650mm web 2400 series machines adds £735, these models already having a discharge elevator which can be lowered to ground level as standard. A kit, including full width shares etc is offered for £2050. Prices for the Kverneland 2200 and 2400 series start at £39,350 and £50,250, respectively. *
Dust flies as potatoes head for the trailer from Richard Olds two-row trailed Kverneland harvesters.
Lifting end of the 2400. The Non-Stop harvesting system requires a full width lifting share. Factory fitted it adds £735 on to the total cost.