Thai manufacturer Samart Kaset Yont have released the Grasshopper, a mechanised cane harvester aiming to take on market share in developing countries where sugarcane is either still cut by hand, or there is an over reliance on contractors.
A company spokesperson said not all cane growers have the resources to purchase full size harvesters and labour is becoming more of an issue.
"Whilst 15 years ago cane cutters were plentiful, in many parts of the world young people are simply either not willing or not able to take on the hard physical work of cutting cane by hand," they said.
"Although many farmers have the chance to enlist contractors using mechanical harvesters on an ad hoc basis, this limits flexibility and can lead to delay in bringing crop from the field."
The spokesperson said while Sarart generally concentrated on larger harvesters for its home market of Thailand, its tractor based cane cutter and layer, known as the Grasshopper, would assist farmers where budget or availability of machines did not allow high levels of capital investment.
"It was conceived on the concept of some early machines that simply chopped the unsupported stalk, these have largely gone out of use simply due to poor results and cane damage," they said.
"To be more effective and productive was the aim of the designers, so to deal with this issue the Grasshopper has a system which holds, supports and guides the stalk into the chopper blade ensuring a clean cut and improved ratoon.
"Through a series of renewable belts the system then lays the cut stems neatly on the ground behind the machine as it moves forward leaving a uniform stream of cut cane ready to be collected.
"This process means that the cut cane can then be clamped efficiently from the ground by a suitably equipped tractor or cane loader, loaded and be off to the mill with minimum delay."
The spokesperson said the machine had been designed to withstand heavy use, while wear parts were easy and economical to replace.
"The Grasshopper can be operated with a 40hp tractor, but will still work effectively on machines up to 100hp with no adverse effect," they said.
"It is ideally suited to provide a first step towards mechanisation. It reduces the demand for labour, provides a superior cut product for farmers to sell and provides farmers with the independence to decide when and where they cut their cane."
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