Beet lifter buyer guide
Although contractors are taking an increasing share of sugar beet harvesting, many growers still prefer the do-it-yourself approach. Peter Hill reviews the machines available for those wanting to maintain full control over lifting
GROWERS who prefer to do their own harvesting with their own machinery say the big advantages are increased flexibility plus the ability to maintain full control over the quality of the work done.
Judging by the innovations being introduced to smaller machines their task is set to become easier.
This autumn, for example, Armer Salmon plans to unveil its latest three-row harvester with a new design holding tank, triple cleaning turbines and novel tandem wheel layout.
Armers familiar root prising and belt harvesting system will be used again, in this case developed from the two-row Beaver design. But unlike the three-row Tiger, which has no tank capacity, the new machine will have a 7t tank. That can be emptied by tipping or conveyor.
The three-wheel layout of the Tiger – with large diameter wheels in tandem beneath the loading elevator – is further developed by replacing the single flotation tyre beneath the lifting gear with two, also in tandem.
Once opening up the crop is completed, it will be possible to hydraulically adjust the rear wheels of each pair in or out so all four wheels run on fresh ground. That will spread the machines weight, thereby reducing compaction, says Armer Salmon.
All three current models now have full hydraulic drive for low maintenance and easy speed adjustment.
Of the other farmer-orientated beet harvesters, all use conventional lifting equipment comprising Oppel wheels or shares.
To remove some of the onus on the operator to keep the harvester exactly in trim, Standen Engineerings Spectrum Mk2 harvester can be equipped with an electronic system for automatic depth and row-following control. That helps maintain good topping and lifting quality while maximising work rate, says the company.
Similar features are found on Garford Engineerings Victor trailed beet harvester which comes in three- and four-row versions, as well as the larger six-row model. All have a tractor-mounted rotary topper, skew-bar scalpers and Oppel wheel lifting equipment.
The six-row model is aimed at larger growers and contractors wanting the near-50% increase in work rate offered over a four-row machine, without the expense and size of a self-propelled unit.
Garford is also the UK distributor for the Kleine range of machinery from Germany. The newest addition is the Kleine KR2 tanker harvester, with a 10cu m tank and adjustable loading height of 160-370cm (5.2-12.1ft) to suit a wide range of trailers.
The topper adjusts for row widths from 45 to 50cm (17.7 to 19.6in), and the lifting mechanism is based on the system in Kleines six-row self-propelled harvester. Shares oscillate vertically, but have a lateral float action.
Automatic steering and depth control is directed by impulses picked up from the lifting shares, using a hydraulic ram on the drawbar to make corrections through a maximum swivel range of 80cm (2.6ft).
The French-built Franquet TE4 six-row harvester from Vogel & Noot is also for growers seeking more output. This mechanical-drive lifter/cleaner/loader follows Continental fashion in using turbines for soil separation.
Draw bar and wheel steering improve manoeuvrability for headland turns and there is hydraulic levelling to maintain performance across slopes. Electronic depth control for the oscillating lifting shares is among the options.
Where soil compaction is a real concern a true tanker harvester is the only effective means of keeping beet trailers to the headland. Scandinavian manufacturers specialise in harvesters of this type, as illustrated by the Thyregod T7 from Standen Engineering, Danagris Rational Nova, Juko one- and two-row lifters and the Edenhall 700-series from Armer Salmon.
All have the added feature of offset lifting gear, which keeps tractors clear of unlifted crop, reducing the risk of dislodged roots.
The Thyregod T7 comes in two- and three-row sizes with flail defoliator, knife scalpers, turbine cleaning and a 10cu m tipping or conveyor-type tank. It also offers a choice of semi- or all-hydraulic drives.
All-hydraulic drive is standard on the Rational Nova Hydro, another two- or three-row machine, this time with a tractor-mounted offset topper to remove some weight from the harvester and give the operator a clearer view of the lifting gear.
Automatic depth control helps maintain an even lifting share depth, regardless of the amount of beet in the holding tank. The Swedish-style shares (if fitted in place of Oppel wheels) are individually suspended and self-seeking to follow crop rows.
Juko prefers a tipping tank design for its lack of moving and wearing parts, and uses this configuration on its single- and twin-row harvesters. Producing clean beet on heavier soils is one of the main claims for the machines because of the finger roller cleaning elevator.
The latest Edenhall harvesters have a similar cleaning section as part of the beet transfer elevator. But this works in combination with a turbine which performs initial soil, stone and trash removal. *
Trailed sugar beet harvesters
MachineRowsTopperScalpingLiftingCleaningTankList price (£)
Armer Machinery 01485 520318
Cheetahonediscdiscshare and beltsturbines1.9t22,600
Beavertwodiscdiscshare and beltsturbines3.8t36,820
Tigerthreediscdisc share and beltsturbinesno38,950
Edenhall 722twoflailknifeshares or wheelsturbines &8t54,660
Edenhall 723threeflailknifeshares or wheelspintle rollers8t62,250
Garford Farm Machinery 01778 342642
Victorthreerotaryskew-barsqueeze wheelsspiral rollersno42,029
Victorfourrotaryskew-barsqueeze wheelsspiral rollersno45,943
Victorsixrotaryskew-barsqueeze wheelsspiral rollersno58,266
Kleine KR2twoflailknifesharessieve belt & wheels7t37,871
Standen Reflex 01353 699429
Juko 100oneflailknifesharesfinger rollers4.4cu m26,200
Juko 100woneflailknifesqueeze wheelsfinger rollers4.4cu m27,995
Juko XJ200twoflailknifesharesfinger rollers7.0cu m45,500
Options: 100 – automatic row sensing £1,295, hillside stabiliser disc £710
Danagri 01629 734835
Rational Nova Hydrotworotaryknifeshares or wheelsroller/elevator5t54,500
Rational Nova Hydrothreerotaryknifeshares or wheelsroller/elevator7t68,000
Options: Turbo Cleaner elevator – 5t £5,050, 7t £5,600
Standen Engineering 01353 661111
Standen Spectrum Mk2threerotaryknife or skew-barsqueeze wheels websno37,326
Standen Spectrum Mk2fourrotaryknife or skew-barsqueeze wheelswebsno38,948
Options: skew-bar scalping – 3-row £1,639, 4-row £1,943; electronic depth/row control – £836; steering axle – £2,022
Thyregod T7twobelt or flailknifesqueeze wheelsturbines10cu m44,058
Thyregod T7threeflailknifesqueeze wheelsturbines10cu m*49,090
Thyregod T7H*threeflailknifesqueeze wheelsturbines10cu m *53,230
Options: Flail topper in place of belt topper – 2-row £1,076; conveyor unloading tank in place of tipping design 3-row semi-hydraulic £7,578, 3-row all-hydraulic £6,658. *All-hydraulic drive.
Vogel & Noot 01692 40723
Franquet TE4sixflailknifesqueeze wheelsturbines0.5t54,700