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  • Norfolk Farms

Labour Saving Potato Harvester

Like most farmers, labour is a constant concern for potato growers.

Even though the large acreage crop has been mechanized, skilled labour and equipment is required to run their harvesting operation.

“Labour is hard to come by,” acknowledged Blair Cobb, service manager for HJV Equipment, based in Prince Edward Island. HJV is a dealership for Grimme, a German-made self-propelled potato harvester popular in Europe.

The Grimme is self-propelled and requires only one operator to run the four-row harvester which is easy to maneuver with its fully hydraulic wheeled chassis. It also has a seven-ton bunker allowing for non-stop harvesting operation due to a reversible bunker web.

“A selling point of this harvester over a conventional harvester that you tow behind, is it’s just one operator and one machine and then the trucks just come to the field and wait for the harvester to fill its own hopper,” said Cobb.

With a self-propelled harvester, it doesn’t need to be pulled behind a tractor and doesn’t require a windrower operating in the field. Nor is a truck running next to the harvester to collect the spuds required.

Cobb added the self-propelled harvester can work in wetter conditions than a standard harvester because conventional tow behind harvesters requires a truck behind them at all times.

A couple of PEI growers who promoted the self-propelled harvesters said the reduced labour and machines made a big difference during harvest last year.

“I suppose (the Grimme) was really good,” said Robin Steijn. “I think it did what we wanted it to do.”

First introduced in Europe about 20 years ago, self-propelled harvesters are popular there and are garnering interest in the Atlantic provinces, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Investment in the self-propelled harvester is viable for operations of 400 to 500 acres. The average potato farm is 700 to 800 acres or more.

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