Four tips to increase productivity in mechanised harvesting

With good planning and technology help, it is possible to reduce risks and increase the efficiency of this fundamental phase of the agricultural operation.

29 January 2021

With the advance of technology, agriculture is anchored in increasingly productive methods. The mechanisation of the harvest, for example, brought an essential optimisation for large productions, allowing the process to be done much more quickly and avoiding losses due to late harvest. Today, according to a survey by the National Supply Company (Conab), 97% of the sugarcane harvest in the Center-South region of Brazil is already mechanised.

However, it is estimated that the losses in these productions still reach up to 10% of the total yield. In addition to natural factors that are difficult to control, this damage is also related to the lack of some care in agricultural production, such as inattentive regulation or incorrect machine driving.

Check out four tips to avoid these problems and further increase the productivity of mechanised harvesting.

1 - Make an optimal harvest planning

To arrive at an optimised harvest, it is necessary to have good planning drawn from the moment of pre-planting.

The choice of the production area, the definition of the time for planting and harvesting, and the care with the cultivation needs, such as solar radiation and water availability, make all the difference in the results that the harvest will bring in the future.

“Planning does not prevent unforeseen events, but it reduces negative impacts and allows a quick response to production needs”, comments Bernardo de Castro, president of Hexagon's Agriculture division, which develops and provides digital solutions for the field.

One of the company's products, HxGN AgrOn Harvest Planning, allows the elaboration of an optimised plan for this phase of production. The technology defines the ideal period for cutting areas according to varietal, operational, and logistical criteria and restrictions. From the configuration of parameters, the manager builds a harvest plan considering issues such as estimated production by area, maturation curves, geographic distribution, weather forecasts, and even the industry's demand.

From the beginning to the end of the harvest, it is still possible to monitor the results and reschedule scenarios as needed.

2 - Pay attention to agricultural machinery settings

Regulating harvesters with configurations suitable for cultivation and production area is essential to avoid compromising the harvest.

In addition, operators need to be careful not to exceed the machine speed recommendation. When this occurs, there are losses and reduced profitability of production.

Today, there are technologies that operate in remote and centralised control of operations, allowing the monitoring of agricultural machinery adjustments in real-time even from a distance.

“This monitoring allows quick interventions to be made whenever necessary. In the case of the HxGN AgrOn Control Room, for example, the solution itself issues notifications and alerts of irregularities, incidents, and machine performance problems to operators in real-time. It is even possible to adjust the software to emit an alarm when a machine is above the stipulated speed”, explains Bernardo.

3 - Have precision in the path of the machines

Another action that can help in the productivity of mechanised harvesting is traffic control so that the machines do not pass over the cultivation lines and compromise production.

“In order to optimise this control, it is important to invest in technologies that help guide machines to execute routes in the planned alignment, such as auto steering”, emphasises the President of Hexagon's Agriculture division.

The automated navigation system HxGN AgrOn Auto Steering ensures precision so that the machines pass exactly in the projected alignment, which avoids trampling the lines, reduces the repetition of the path, and reduces soil compaction.

4 - Synchronise agricultural machinery for more efficient harvesting

At harvest time, the automation of the machinery can avoid stops and delays in the operation, ensuring more efficiency.

For Bernardo de Castro, “harvesters stopped means loss of productivity, idle capacity and wasted time. For this reason, we invested in the development of a solution that seeks to make the cutting, loading and transportation processes fluid”.

The product, HxGN AgrOn Haul-out Dynamic Allocation, synchronises the movement of the transshipment tractor with the cutting rate of the harvesters, indicating the ideal moment of travel so that the harvesters stop time is reduced and the cutting is not interrupted. Thus, the time of operation of a harvester can increase up to 50% in the day.