Simamisa Farming has been in operation for 6 years. We are a development management company for sugar cane farms belonging to Tongaat Hullets as well as procuring new areas for planting which previously belonged to disadvantaged black growers.
We currently have approximately 5000Ha under sugar with a further 4000Ha under development and are negotiating to expand these areas further. We have estates in Tongaat, Mandini and Eshowe. We currently employ around 400 people directly and indirectly employ another 500 people under contractors. We plant, harvest and ratoon all these areas.
We used the CaneThumper® for the end of the 2011 season to help us catch up on our DRD (daily ratable delivery) as we had fallen behind in our cutting. We could not find qualified cane cutters to help us with the cutting but at the time we had a surplus of general labour. We hired one machine from Matthew Langton and bought a second machine from Mascor Umhlali. We used these machines for a month and achieved an average of 0.6Ha a day in 50-60Ton per Hectare cane giving us between 30 and 40 tons per day with a maximum of 90 tons in a single day. The machine managed around 7.4 litres of petrol per hectare.
We have steep terrain which the CaneThumpers® managed to cut adequately but slowly but when it became more than 45 degrees we had to stop. Anything steeper gave us a poor cut. We found the training of the operators to be fairly simple and straight forward and the staff managed to understand the machine well enough to find any problems before they became too serious. We did found that the new machine does work faster and easier to handle than the old CaneThumpers® . Cutting too fast however seems to damage the root system a little bit. We experimented with different stacking techniques and found that stacking 6 lines on another was easier for the bell and the loading but slowed the CaneThumpers® down too much. We found stacking four lines to be the fastest most efficient way to cut and stack.
During the month that we used the CaneThumpers® we cut for 8 hours a day and the area cut each day varied on the staff we used, terrain, weather, machine operator and cane quality. We achieved up to 1.5ha a day on some days and 0.3ha a day on others. We achieved a blade life of +- 120hours per blade. Our terrain is very rocky and we have some shales with heavy clay soils. When cutting on our sandy soils we found that if the driver went too fast or went to areas that were too steep we damaged root systems by pulling them out. The damage was not excessive so we continued to use the machine.
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