26 September 1997

Dry weather gives them chance to do their best

Organisers of Potato Harvest 97 have every reason to be pleased with themselves – the event drew a large number of exhibitors and visitors. And dry conditions provided plenty of opportunity to see harvesters working at their best. Andy Collings and Geoff Ashcroft report

DEVELOPMENT of potato harvesters continues. Higher capacity machines, machines better able to operate in difficult conditions and machines designed to handle potatoes without damaging them.

Potato Harvest 97, held at Knettishall, Suffolk, revealed some interesting developments – not only in harvesting but also in the transportation of potatoes.

Working in collaboration with Grimme, Richard Larrington of Boston-based Richard Larrington Trailers, has developed a box filling system designed to reduce damage to tubers as they are off loaded from harvesters.

A four-box trailer – with an eight-box version to come – the Guardian 4 comprises four foam sided, fixed height filling chutes which, at the start of the filling operation have their ends resting on the bottom of the boxes.

As the boxes fill, they are gradually lowered hydraulically, reducing the free fall of the potatoes to a few inches. Two cameras – one at the rear and one on the top – allow the operator see the two boxes at the back and oversee the filling operation.

With a first outing at Knettishall, it became clear it was important to ensure boxes are filled evenly bearing in mind that all four boxes are lowered at the same time.

Due to be marketed by Grimme, price of the Guardian 4 box filler, has yet to be announced.

Sleaford-based Grimme also had something of its own development to shout about – the first public showing of the two-row GZ 1700 DLS harvester.

Features include depth sensors for the units diablo/share lifting system and a hill and valley main cleaning web. The latter is a design used successfully in other Grimme harvesters and one which helps to produce better cleaning, but not at the expense of damaged potatoes.

A new design of elevator has also been developed. Again, with a reduction in bruising being the main aim, the elevator comprises a series of steps connected by plastic sheeting and sides which move with the elevator. Grimme claims the new design will remain clean even when harvesting in wet conditions.

Price of the GZ 1700 DLS, depending on specification, is in the region of £48,000.

Left: Bruise-free box filling with the Larrington Guardian 4. Boxes are seen in their lowered position. At the start of filling they would be raised by two hydraulic rams. Right: Grimmes GZ1700 DLSharvester gets a work-out.