Report on the Agricultural Experiment Stations, 1952 Page: 11
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AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING 11
potatoes with a minimum of bruising. This new machine consists of
a series of rubber-covered rollers, that replace the vibrating chain
belt used in older machines. Thus the potatoes are cushioned against
bruising and a better job of separating dirt and potatoes is done than
with former equipment. Capacity per square foot of separating surface
is greater in the new machine than in the conventional types and
the operation is improved under damp and muddy field conditions.
The new equipment permits the harvesting of potatoes with practically
no injury. Idaho farmers are modifying older type diggers
by incorporating in them the new rubber-covered rollers. Industry
is also incorporating these features in new models of potato combines.
A combination mechanical dirt-remover and bucket-type vertical
elevator developed by the Maine Experiment Station is also overcoming
some of the potato-bruising difficulties experienced by potato
growers. The dirt-removing machine is powered by a 3/4-horsepower
electric motor and can clean 135 barrels per hour. During an extensive
test it separated about 1 barrel of field dust for each 100 barrels
of potatoes, with no evidence of tuber bruising. The Maine station
has also made available plans for a portable-type, variable length
conveyor for use around the potato storage house. This conveyor has
proved highly satisfactory in tests and has met the rigid requirements
of the potato-growing industry. It can be built in any farm machine
Mechanical onion harvesting lowers costs
The largest expense item in commercial onion growing has been
that of stoop labor at harvesting time. Costs for harvest labor should
be materially reduced as the result of a special mechanical harvester
developed by the California station. The new machine digs, lifts,
tops, and sacks the onions, whether seeded or transplanted, and under
all types or conditions of soil in which onions are usually grown.
This compact unit can be readily adapted to a wide range of tractor
mounting and operating conditions.
When the unit is in operation, synchronized, two-bladed rubber
flippers lift the downed tops so as to engage them between two parallel
endless belts running at an incline of 30. Simultaneously, a special,
single, narrow, wedge-shaped digging blade passes under the onion
bulb, breaks the surrounding soil, and severs the onion roots. The inclined
belts and the forward movement of the tractor lift the onion
from the soil. The onion continues to travel upward to a point where
another series of parallel endless belts grasp the tops slightly above
the first set. The tops are thus held firmly at two points. As the
onions pass between two overlapping disks, the bulbs are severed from
the top. The severed tops are conveyed over the back of the machine
and fall to the ground, and the onion bulbs drop into a hopper from
which a standard elevator conveys them to a sacking platform.
At a tractor speed of 1 mile per hour in an average stand of onions,
the machine can lift about 240 onions per minute. With ordinary
delays such as are encountered in turning at the end of the row, 2
men on the machine can harvest about 2 acres in a 10-hour day.
Adaptation ot the California onion harvester is already under way
at the Oregon station which is developing a similar machine for digging
and packaging gladiolus bulbs.
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United States. Office of Experiment Stations. Report on the Agricultural Experiment Stations, 1952, book, January 1953; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc5990/m1/13/: accessed May 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.