If you use appropriate machinery and equipment, work efficiency can be greatly increased on a farm, garden or any type of land management situation. This course has been developed to show you the possibilities, and give you a foundation for discovering the best solution for any job that might confront you in horticulture, or agriculture.
pply appropriate, and innovative engineering solutions, to improve efficiency and productivity in agriculture and horticulture.
Grasses, processed for either hay or silage for animal feed, or maize, wheat, millet etc for human consumption, need to be harvested in the most cost effective way for the farmer.
You should consider the harvesting of grasses, or any crops, does not always involve powerful machinery in every instance. For example, the absolute simplest harvesting devices still in operation in some countries are manual tools like the sickle and scythe. These tools are not used in developed countries where access to modern equipment is available. Nonetheless, where the sickle and scythe are still used, the shape and size of the sickle can vary considerably, thus altering the effectiveness of the sickle performance. A scythe is basically a sickle with a long wooden handle which is swung strongly from a standing position and cuts on impact.
Mowers, although traditionally used for grass cutting operations, can be adapted for use in harvesting cereals such as wheat. Generally two types of mowers are used:
1. cutterbar mowers
2. rotary mowers
The cutterbar mower has two plates; one is stationary whilst the other plate moves backward and forward against the stationary plate. This can be described as a shear action, cutting the crop like using large scissor cutting motion. This razor-like cut, promotes faster crop regrowth and subsequent quality. The name cutter bar comes from several units of these are mounted on a bar – aptly named the cutterbar. The cutterbar slides along the ground on a form of skid known as shoes. The shoe positioned closest to the uncut crop is called the outer show, whereas the show closest to the tractor is simply the inner shoe. It is the outer show which acts as a divider for separating the crop width to be cut at any one time (that is, from the uncut crop).
The cutterbar mower works extremely fast with an approximate working speed of 300 km per hour, producing a very clean cut to the crop, (please note, that not all cutterbar mowers work at this speed, new modern day industrial farming equipment suppliers will be able to tell you more about the cutter speed of the different mower on the market). Some cutterbar mowers can cut the crop very close to the ground – as little at 2cm from the soil surface. Of course this is beneficial as it does not waste any of crops thus ensuring your have the highest potential income from the harvested yield.
Rotary mowers have one or more rotating blades mounted horizontally. Generally rotary mowers are used for cutting down weeds, stalks and brush.
There are essential components of a typical forage harvester.
1. A pick-up device to pick up the crop that has been cut by the mower/harvester (note some harvester may have its own mower attachment).
2. An auger or elevator to carry the cut crop to the chopping unit
3. A chopping mechanism which can be either a cylinder or flywheel (the cylinder with spiral blades chops the forage against a fixed blade, whilst the flywheel has a heavy circular plate with a number of blades on it, the material is chopped against a fixed steel plate).
Windrowers look like a small combine harvester but they don’t have a bin on the back for carrying threshed grain, the crop that is windrow is just cut and simply laid in a row for a harvester to pick up when the crop has dried down, or for a hay baler to pick up if you are dealing with a forage crop.
When a crop is cut, a hay condition crushes and crimps stems to speed drying to an 18-20% moisture level. There can be significant losses in crop condition when field drying. Field-cured hay may be stored, baled or chopped and then stored indoors or compressed as stacks or bales.
Round bales can be large, weight up to 600kg.
Balers (round or square)
In hay harvesting, after the grass is cut and dried, it should be collected and stored in bundles. A baler is machinery designed to pick up the hay and compress it into bales. A typical baler will usually have 3 components to it:
1. The pick up reel – when this rotates the hay is lifted and pushed into an auger moving the crop towards the bale chamber.
2. Bale chamber –The crop is pulled into the bale chamber by the active motion of packer arms, it is within the central chamber that compression of the hay takes place.
3. Ram and ram knife – the actual compression of the crop is carried out by the motion of the ram. Imagine the ram being similar to the piston of a combustion engine; finally the ram knife cuts the compressed crop at the desired length (predetermined before commencing the process).
There are so many different balers available for purchase, whether it is to suit the commercial producer or hobby farmer. In baling, the bale should be formed in even layers. Netting or twine is used to prevent the bale from disintegrating. Also this leads to tidy storage and easy manouverability of the bales.
Who should study this course?
People about to enter or are working in the rural, horticulture or agriculture industry, and will be operating the associated machinery. The course also teaches students about water and environmental management, fencing and chemical application.