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A Reduced-Cost Mechanized System for Handling and Curing Mechanically-Harvested Burley Tobacco

Camenisch, G.A., Wells, L.G., Smith, T.D., Duncan, G.A.
Applied engineering in agriculture 2002 v.18 no.2 pp. 161-169
air, burley tobacco, leaves, mechanical harvesting, polyethylene, steel
An experimental system was tested in which mechanically harvested burley tobacco plants placed onto steel slotted receivers were retrieved from a field, transported to a field curing structure, and placed onto the structure for air curing by a single worker. The system consisted of a tractor-towed, trailer mechanism that engaged and hoisted loads of approximately 360 burley plants of approximately 1 Mg mass. Ten slotted steel rails, 3.05 m long, holding 36 notched plants were placed onto parallel wooden beams suspended at a height of 2.13 m by wooden posts set in the ground. Burley tobacco was cured in this configuration covered by polyethylene. Time-and-motion experiments showed that the system could retrieve tobacco from the field and place it onto a curing structure adjacent to the field at the rate of 0.1 to 0.18 ha/h. Replicated experiments also showed that the system operated with negligible leaf loss due to handling. Finally, experimental results showed that leaf grade index decreased with time that filled tobacco rails were left lying on the ground after being harvested and prior to being retrieved. This study further indicated that the estimated cost of the proposed harvesting system compares favorably with systems that require several manual laborers.