University researchers maximize sugarcane harvest with new blade

By Daily Illini Staff Report

University researchers conducted a study to maximize sugarcane harvest that tested four different blades to check the quality of the cut and the quality of the blade after the cut.

“The main advantage that we found is that the machine can operate much faster, while yielding a high quality of cut,” said Tony Grift, associate professor in Engineering, in an email.

After cutting, properties of the sugarcane plant such as stem density, stem diameter at cutting height, stubble height, stem damage and damage to the root system were observed to see which blade was the best.

Grift also said adopting these new machines would allow farmers to use less machines for every area harvested.

Researchers were first expecting the best blade to be one that was somewhat angled when cutting. However, the study proved the angled blades caused more damage to the stem of the sugarcane.

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A serrated blade was found to be less damaging to the stem of the plant.

“Farmers will adopt the new blades because of the increase in the field capacity of the harvester in acres per hour, which increases dramatically by using these new serrated blades,” Grift said.

Using these blades also decreases the amount of energy used when harvesting, he said.