Beet harvesters go head to head

Last week’s Beet UK event not only provided visitors with the opportunity to see a range of different harvesters working, but also gave British Sugar the chance to assess each machine on its effectiveness.

A range of three-, four-, six- and nine-row trailed and self-propelled harvesters were scrutinised. Over half were six-row units, which accurately reflects the picture on farm.

More than 75% of the UK sugar beet crop is lifted with six-row harvesters, a further 10% with nine to 12-rowers and the rest with smaller two- and four-row machines.

To gain a picture of harvesting efficiency, the working speed of each unit was recorded, with losses and root breakages taken into account.
Armed with forks, the assessment team checked four 60sq m blocks behind each harvester looking for surface losses and broken roots.

Root breakages were assessed using a “crocodile gauge” as beet was tipped at the clamp.

Dirt and crown tares in samples from each lifting rig were then assessed to allow a comparison of how harvested beet yields will be adjusted on entry to the factory.

It was in the six-row category that the day’s two top achievers proved themselves.

Admittedly working slower than its counterparts, the Matrot M41 managed to measure the lowest losses at just 0.73t/ha.

And, with combined dirt and crown tares of 10.5%, the Kleine SF20 produced the cleanest sample on the light Lincolnshire brash of the host farm.

For more on Beet UK see Arable p55.