Improvements in the quality of cane delivered to Macknade Mill may have helped boost the mill’s crushing rate, according to preliminary results from last week’s Harvest Optimisation Week (HOW) trial (Sunday 20 August to Saturday 26 August).
Herbert Cane Productivity Services Limited Manager Mr Lawrence Di Bella the early trial results revealed there was a significant increase in sound cane billets supplied to the mill during the first three days of HOW.
There was also a measurable reduction in the amount of damaged billets, cane roots, stools and trash supplied to the mill. The HOW trial was designed to collect hard data on whether changes to harvesting practices could maximise revenue for the Herbert sugar industry.
Throughout last week, about 20 harvesters supplying Macknade Mill were required to operate at the machine’s optimal set-up to reduce cane loss in the paddock.
Mr Di Bella said the combination of higher cane quality, lower billet losses and less extraneous matter had a positive effect on the mill’s crushing rate.
“We saw an increase in the crushing rate of approximately 18 tonnes per hour for Macknade Mill over the first three days of the trial,” Mr Di Bella said.
“If this rate could be maintained throughout a whole crushing season, it would mean that Herbert River Mills would have crushed out six days earlier last year.
“This six-day reduction in season length would mean that the Herbert industry would not have crushed through Christmas in 2016, would not have harvested cane in the wet at the end of the season, and would not have left standover behind.”
Three SRA and HCPSL teams worked with harvesting contractors during the trial to measure sugar losses, cane losses and billet quality from harvesters.
Wilmar Sugar teams collected data on CCS, cane fibre, crushing rates, bin weight, sugar quality and cane quality.
Harvesting teams collected data on the time taken to fill bins, time spent waiting for bins and fuel use for harvesters and haulouts.
Phil Patane (SRA Adoption Officer – Harvesting) said while some feedback would be provided to the local sugar industry in the short term, it would take several weeks to analyse the data fully.
“HCPSL and SRA staff will undertake an in-depth analysis of the trial and the results will be presented to the whole industry after the dust settles on the 2017 harvest,” Mr Patane said.
“SRA and HCPSL sincerely thank everyone involved in HOW. The data collected during HOW will allow the industry to realise the full commercial worth of the cane crop across the whole value chain.”
This trial is supported and funded by: SRA, HCPSL, Wilmar Sugar, and the Sugar Research Institute, with support from CANEGROWERS Herbert River, and the Australian Cane Farmers Association.