Objective of the sugar beet harvest:
The aim is to ensure that the sugar yield grown in the plant is also delivered to the factory with the aim of guaranteeing the highest productivity. The strategy already begins when determining the sequence in which the sugar beet fields are to be harvested. The crucial factor here, in addition to the ability to drive machines across the field and to plant the subsequent crop, is the expected increase in the yield from certain varieties. Varieties with minor prognosed additional growth should be harvested first. The gentle and clean harvesting of the sugar beet is an important priority because this process harbours considerable potential for generating losses. During harvesting, the sugar beet is first mechanically separated from the leaves and then topped before being lifted from the ground and sieved alongside the extracted soil by several cleaning devices. Sugar beet is collected in a bunker, and transported to the edge of the field, where it is temporarily stored in clamps until it is collected for transport to the sugar factory.
Harvesting method specifications:
1. Precise beet canopy topping
In addition to small amounts of saccharose, the beet head contains large amounts of substances which have a detrimental effect on the sugar yield because they contain the so-called molasses-agents such as potassium, sodium and amino-nitrogen. It is therefore very important that the sugar beet heads are topped cleanly. Every load of sugar beet arriving at a sugar factory is assessed to determine the proportion of beet heads and leaf residues. Improperly topped beet incurs financial penalties corresponding to the proportion of beet heads found in the load. In addition, the soil transported along with the beet is also measured by taking a washing sample and subsequently deducting the amount from the net weight of the load.
2.Removing the sugar beet root from the soil without any breakage losses with a minimal amount of damage, and minor amount of adhering soil
The harvesting machine must be properly set up because it has a significant influence on the beet topping and harvesting quality, as well as on the capacity to store the sugar beet at the side of the field. The early identification of problems such as beet injury during harvesting, or excessive adhering soil, often allows the harvesting quality to be significantly improved by undertaking only a few measures or merely by adjusting the harvesting speed. Careful preparation and handling during the beet harvest and building the clamps keeps losses to a minimum and reduces soil losses from the field.
The harvesting method used boasts the highest standards of technology, and guarantees fast harvesting even under difficult conditions. The six-row mobile beet harvester with bunker is today's dominant harvesting technology. Depending on the volume of the bunker, these six-row beet harvesters can collect all of the harvested beet for at least the length of a field until it is unloaded at the edge of the field, or the beet is transported to a separate transport vehicle as the harvesting progresses. Transferring the beet into separate transport vehicles is mainly required when long fields are being harvested. This also increases the hectare capacity of the harvesting machinery. It also obviously also requires additional transport equipment and personnel.
Beet fields in Rheinland
Beet fields in the North
Beet fields in the East
Subcontractors and machine rings
The high capacity and the investment costs usually mean that the six-row harvesting machines in particular are used by more than one farming enterprise. In addition to local subcontractors, these machines are also increasingly being used by farmers who form harvesting co-operatives to purchase and operate the machinery themselves. The farmers guarantee in this way their influence on the harvesting logistics and the harvesting costs. Using the machinery on more than one farming enterprise also increases the flexibility of the operations planning for the harvesting machines so that the soil and weather conditions can be taken into consideration to the greatest possible extent. In addition, wide tyres avoid having to offset the tracks, and caterpillar tracks prevent the formation of deep tracks. Smaller, two-row hauled harvesting machines or three-row mobile harvesting machines are mainly used today in the north-western cultivation areas and account for max. one quarter of the beet cultivated areas, and are primarily used on single farming operations.
Field edge storage and clamp care
1. Storage of the beet in clamps and protection against frost in accordance with the schedule
Because the actual delivery of the harvested sugar beet has to be timed to coincide with the delivery acceptance and processing capacities of the sugar factories, the sugar beet is temporarily stored in clamps at the edge of the fields after harvesting.
In principle, the sugar beet also respirates the sugar it has stored when piled up in clamps at the edge of the field. These losses, as well as evaporation-related losses in mass, are accelerated by warming up. These processes can be counteracted by ensuring proper storage conditions, and only storing perfect beet. In addition, the construction of the clamps has to take into consideration the loading technique that will be used, to ensure that loading is carried out smoothly and without any problems. The beet therefore also has to be stored in clamps directly adjacent to paths which can be driven on at any time by the transport vehicles. Non-woven material has proved very suitable for covering the clamps and protecting the beet. The non-woven material provides a certain amount of insulation and therefore makes it more difficult for frost to penetrate the clamps. But because this non-woven material also breathes, it ensures that the clamps are ventilated.
The non-woven material also usually provides adequate protection from rainwater and snow which improves the sieving off of any soil still adhering to the beet, particularly when the covers on the clamps protect it from heavy rainfall. The work involved in covering and uncovering the clamps is undertaken in various ways, either by hand or increasingly by service providers using winding machines. The non-woven material used to protect beet clamps can be used for many years when properly stored.
2. Removing the beet from the clamps without losses, and smooth punctual transport to the sugar factory.
For economic reasons, beet campaigns are becoming longer and stretch into the end of December or even into January. This is associated with a significant increase in weather-related risks such as frost, snow or rain. Thawed frosted beet is unsuitable for sugar extraction and can give rise to total losses in extreme cases. The frost damage can be avoided by covering the beet clamps and improving the removal of adhering soil. Beet farmers therefore take advantage of financial support from the sugar factories to implement the necessary measures to safeguard the quality of the stored sugar beet from the negative influence of the weather. Cleaning loaders are used to convey the sugar beet from the clamps onto the transport vehicles. More than xx per cent of the beet is pre-cleaned using cleaning loaders. The further development of GIS and GPS-supported beet transport also improves the smooth logistics operations between beet farms and sugar factories.