Scientists of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University field-tested the Thai-Japan Bunmai sugarcane harvester at the sugarcane farm of Bannari Amman Sugars Limited, Sathyamangalam, recently.
The harvester was imported by the university under the National Agricultural Development Project. The cost of the machine was Rs. 1.35 crore and included a harvester, cane loader, 75-hp four-wheel drive tractor and a low-bed loader and trailer. It was demonstrated on a four-acre farm.
The import of the harvester was the outcome of the visit by a high-level team headed by Agriculture Minister Veerapandi S. Arumugam to Thailand, Japan and China to inspect the field performance of various sugarcane harvesters manufactured by different firms.
Launching the harvester, Vice-Chancellor of the university P. Murugesa Boopathi said it would be a big boon to the farmers who faced severe labour shortages, coupled with rising labour costs.
S. Santhana Bosu, Dean (Agricultural Engineering), TNAU, said sugarcane harvesting being a highly labour-intensive operation required nearly 850 to 1,000 man-hours an hectare with traditional tools. It involved base cutting, stripping, de-trashing, de-topping, bundle-making, loading and transport of cane to sugar mills.
The machine did all the operations and also chopping whole cane into billets before storing them into a netted bag mounted at the rear of the machine.
The demonstration was conducted for a large group of sugarcane farmers in the presence of S.V. Balasubramanian, Chairman, Bannari Amman Sugars Limited.