There has been a large increase in the usage of large chopper harvesters for harvesting sugarcane. This is especially prevalent in Brasil where there were approximately 1050 new chopper harvesters bought in 2008 alone. The main reason for this is the decrease of available labour and the world trend of green cane harvesting.
There are, however, lots of limitations and costs that come with using these large machines. They include the following:
- A good land preparation is required
- Minimal slope
- Long lines and
- Area’s to be able to turn commonly known as headlands.
This is where the has become a useful tool or help for the large chopper harvesters. It does this in 2 main ways:
- Cutting the entry point for the tractors and trailers and turning areas for the choppers so that they do not ride over the cane
- Cutting the sugarcane on the contour where the chopper harvester is unable to ride
- Cutting areas that are wet and
- Decreasing the number of short lines by as much as 69%.
The does this by cutting using the 5-7 labour units and placing the cane against the line that will be cut or lying it right next to the cane with the butts lying toward from where the chopper harvester will be coming from. The chopper harvester battles to pick the cane up if the tops are pointed toward the harvester.
The sugarcane season normally does not run for the entire year. Depending on your area it ranges from 180 days to 230 days. This means that if using a CaneThumper® to cut your sugarcane then for 4 to 6 months the CaneThumper® is not utilised and the owner does not get a return on his investment. There has thus been a trend to determine other usages for the CaneThumper®. This has proved so successful that some people are buying the CaneThumper® only for other usages.
These usages include the following:
- Grass cutting
- eragrostis hay cutting
- road edge maintenance
- soya harvesting
- essential oils harvesting
- sweet sorghum to name a few
To make the CaneThumper® as effective as possible there is some adjustments required to ensure that the job performs satisfactorily. This includes different cutting bars with longer lengths (shown below) to be more efficient and to ensure there is adequate crop flow in grass materials a shaking hood is attached as seen below:
This has been the most used alternative usage for cleaning up farm roads, keeping the weeds down between crops, around sensitive areas like orchads and for the edge of roads on highways and roads where conventional brushcutters are normally used.
The cutting speed is usually done in top gear which is 2km/hr. The following table shows the area cut per hr using the different length grass heads and the operating costs per hour in US dollars:
This is usually done with the 1.7m bar since the grass is generally not as thick or tough and is done regularly. The 1.7m bar is not advised for very dense material or where a high manouvarability is required. The following figures shows the 1.7m grass bar cutting an extraction road.
The cleaning up on the side of the roads is traditionally done with a gyro-mower behind a tractor, by brushcutters similar to the STIHL or manually using a slasher. These all have limitations that include a high horse power requirement, dangerous due to high speeds and throwing stones into traffic, and is a manual intensive job if doing it by hand.
The CaneThumper® fitted with the 1.35m grass bar is perfectly suited for this. It is resistant to bottles, rocks or other foreign matter, is safe and uses only 0.5 litres of diesel an hour. The following figure shows the CaneThumper® cutting the verge of a gravel dirt road without throwing stones into cars and being safe for other workers in the immediate surroundings...