Potatoes are the most used edible tubers across the world and it occupies fourth place in the list of worlds largest food crops after maize, wheat and rice. Hence its harvesting phase requires efficient mechanism to reduce the time and cost expenses. Potato harvesters are such machines which makes the harvesting process lot more easier in quick time with less labor. Use of machinery in potato harvesting has started from the year 1940 with some labor work involved in it. Later years it is developed gradually and evolved as fully automated machines. So lets see how does it works and what are the usual benefits and drawbacks with it.
- These potato harvesters are classified in to one row and two row machines depending on the field size and requirements. Basically one row harvesting machines are used for smaller fields and the other is for larger ones.
- The main parts include a potato spinner which is connected to a tractor or driven manually for lifting the potatoes from the ground. This is especially used in one row machines where labor work is needed.
- Potato harvester has a Haulm topper for cutting the potato stems. Generally this can be connected at the front end or at the back of the tractor.
- A trailed potato harvester is attached at the back of the tractor to receive the harvested potatoes from the haulm topper.
- According to field size and requirements these machines may vary. A hand driven machine has to be carried manually where the potatoes can be harvested by simply pushing the machine forward.
- When the digger is moved forward, the soil becomes loose and the separating nets in the machine separates the potatoes from the clay. Later these potatoes are packed manually by the labor.
- Two row machines are lot bigger than one row machines and are mostly used in larger fields. In this method the diggers dig the potatoes from the ground, uplifted through elevators and send in to the containers at one step.
- Time and money saving : Earlier harvesting system requires lot of time and labor. With these machines you can save at most time with less labor work.
- Full recovery : In traditional harvesting methods there may be a chance of leaving the potatoes unknowingly in the soil. These machines ensures full recovery of the potatoes as it digs deep in to the soil.
- High quality : The potatoes harvested with these machines are undamaged and have less scope of clods, weeds and stones.
- Ready for next crop : As it digs deeply the land becomes ready for the next crop.
- Huge size and expensive : The major drawback with these machines is its size. It is difficult to move in smaller villages where lot of crowd is present. Moreover it has to be carried on to the beds which are not harvested leading to yield loss. Small scale farmers cannot afford its cost as it also requires more fuel.
- Skilled labor : Although it reduces labor work during harvesting process, it requires skilled labor to maintain it.
- Uneven land : It digs deep in to the land causing unevenness in the land which may even affect the fertility of the soil.
- In India different type of potato harvesters are used. The cost varies according to size and type of the machine. Usually you can buy a harvester machine ranging from 20000 to one lakh. Miedema, Dewulf, Allan, APH Group are some of the top rated companies which provide these machines.