SRA targets losses from mechanical harvesting
A major new research program is tackling the challenge of reducing the loss of sugarcane associated with mechanical harvesting, a problem that has been estimated to cost the Australian sugarcane industry $150 million per year.
The research is being led by Sugar Research Australia (SRA) and it is aiming to improve harvesting efficiency from multiple research strategies along the value chain, all the way from encouraging the adoption of existing research on-farm, to exciting new online tools to help harvester operators maximise the efficiency of removing sugarcane and sugar from a field in real-time.
This project is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program and will run for three years, going through to June 2019.
The research work will kick off with investigations into cane cleaning in conjunction with low-loss harvesting, machinery modifications to reduce stool damage and improve cane feeding, sensing tools to give feedback on the quality of the harvesting job, and improvement of a software tool to assess the financial benefits of different harvesting strategies (SCHLOT, Sugarcane Harvest Loss Optimisation Tool).
Additional work will be commissioned on advice from the Research Management Group, but is likely to include economic analyses across the sugarcane value chain and initiatives to harvest best practice.