Not all cane growers have the resources to purchase full size harvester machines. But all such concerns still have the issue of labour. 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.
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.
Samart Kaset Yont Ltd. in Thailand concentrate their product line on full size harvesters in the 200-300 hp range, but has recognised that to assist farmers in remaining productive where budget or availability of machines does not allow high levels of investment they have come up with an interim product.
The Samart “Grasshopper” is a tractor based cane cutter/layer. 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. 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. Rapid cutting assists in moisture retention and the efficiency of the chopper means a clean cut with less likelihood of stalk disease ensure the best possible chance of ratoon.
The machine is robustly manufactured to withstand heavy use and wear parts are easy and economical to replace. The unit is self-supporting on its own wheel set and connects easily onto the rear linkage and power take off provided on most tractors. The “Grasshopper” can be operated with a 40hp tractor, but will still work effectively on machines up to 100hp with no adverse effect.
Actually the “Grasshopper” 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.
Further details can be obtained direct from the manufacturer Samart Kaset Yont Ltd. in Chainat Thailand.