Development of Potato crop harvester suitable for smallholdings
Keywords:potato, self propelled, develop, tubers damage, smallholding
Potato crop (Solanum tuberosum) in Egypt is one of the major vegetable crops, as it is grown each year, cultivated area is 437386 feddan (183702 ha), and quantity of production is 4955445 ton (Agricultural Statistics Yearbook, 2015). The farming structure in Egypt has totally changed during the past 50 years. It has gone from a small number of very large holdings to very large number of small holdings (FAO, 2010). The main objectives of this research were to develop, manufacture and evaluate self propelled potato harvesting machine suitable for smallholdings, the following steps were used. The develop and manufacture of the self propelled machine were conducted at the Agricultural Engineering Department, Faculty of Agriculture, Cairo University and small workshop in Al-Aiyat town, Giza Governorate Egypt. The soil texture was found to be almost clay loam. A potato harvester self propelled machine (single row) was developed; the blade potato harvester was designed, manufactured and evaluated. The developed self propelled machine was evaluated at three levels of forward working speed (1.5, 2.0 and 2.5 km/h) and three levels of digging depth (16, 20 and 24 cm). Evaluation was depended on the following parameters: machine field capacity, harvesting efficiency, damaged potato tubers, consumed energy and cost of harvesting operation. The obtained results can be summarized as follows: The percentage of damaged potato tubers increased by accelerated the forward speed from 1.5 – 2.5 km/h, but damaged percent decreased with increasing the digging depth, The highest value of field capacity was at operating speed of 2.5 Km/h, The highest harvesting efficiency at the digging depth of 24 cm and operating speed 1.5 Km/h. The harvesting efficiency decreased by increasing the forward speed from 1.5 to 2.5 km/h at different digging depths, The lowest value of the consumed energy was found at the digging depth of 16 cm and operating speed of 1.5 Km/h, The Consumed energy increased with increasing digging depth. The highest value of the missing tubers percentages was at the digging depth 16 cm and operating speed 1.5 Km/h. By increasing the digging depth the missing tuber decreased. The minimum costs were found at digging depth of 16 cm and operating speed 2 Km/h. The lowest value of harvesting time was by using of the self propelled machine comparing to manual harvesting and traditional plough. While the harvesting time decreased to 25% and 30% comparing to manual harvesting time and traditional plough respectively. The harvesting costs value of the self propelled machine was (14.28$)250 L.E /fed. According to 2017, so, it was decreased by about 31.25% and 62.5 % comparing to manual harvesting costs and traditional plough respectively.