SRA tar­gets losses from me­chan­i­cal har­vest­ing

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - RURAL INSIGHT -

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.

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