Evaluation of the Illovo mechanical cane cutter
International Sugar Journal
School of Bioresources Engineering and Environmental Hydrology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209, South Africa; South African Sugarcane Research Institute, Private Bag X02, Mount Edgecombe, 4300, South Africa
Labour for sugarcane cutting in South Africa is expected to become scarce as a result of growth in the manufacturing sector and the effect of HTV/AIDS on the available workforce. Manual harvesting is often favoured or unavoidable because of steep slopes and the high costs associated with mechanical harvesting. A brush-cutter with a redesigned blade configuration, named the Illovo mechanical cane cutter, was developed and evaluated during a series of field trials. A range of system properties were measured during testing at Isonti farm on the South Coast in 2005, where the dusty working environment affected the cutter adversely, and an improved filter system was recommended. Currently, the durability of the blade is the most limiting factor and contributes significantly to costs. Blade wear occurs rapidly when cane is cut close to the ground, and an economic break-even point is needed to balance cutting height and blade replacement costs. Although the system is efficient, several areas are highlighted for further research to help curb excessive costs.
Blade configurations; Blade replacement; Break-even point; Cutting heights; Filter system; Manufacturing sector; System property; Working environment; Brushes; Costs