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Browsing articles by Michael Nilson

Hydraulic Harvester: Luxury or Necessity?

The biggest single improvement in harvesters in the past few decades is full hydraulic control, available only over the past handful of years. Should you be considering making a switch? On a conventional machine, speeding up tractor RPM translates to faster PTO revolution and, consequently, faster movement of every element of the harvester. In ideal conditions, optimal tractor speed matches optimal table shaking and conveyor speeds. More often than not, however, tractor…

The Wow Factor and the Reality of Mobile, Automated Potato Cleaning

If you’re convinced the only way your potato field can, year after year, produce so many rocks is that they must be reproducing underground, you’re not alone. Harvesting rock and debris alongside one’s potatoes is a frustrating and expensive reality of production. Until recently, producers haven’t had good post-harvest handling options. Operating a picking line is costly, inefficient and, as fewer and fewer people are willing to take on menial piece-work, increasingly…

Air Cup Planters: Are They Really So Much Better? (Short Answer: Yes)

Anyone can get potatoes into the ground. If you want to maximize your time, land and in-put efficiency — and ultimately make more money — getting potatoes into the ground quickly and with accurate depth and spacing is critical. The technology that can make all of that happen is an air cup planter. Air cup planters rely on negative (vacuum) pressure to pick up a single seed and positive (air blast) pressure…

What Planter Class is Right for Your Operation?

There are a number of reasons potato growers want to invest in a new planter. Some want to take advantage of the new technologies available today, while others are looking for ways to increase their profit margins; some producers want increased service, lower maintenance costs and easier access to parts. Whatever the reason, there is much to consider when it’s time for a new planter. Basically, there are three planter types on…

Modern-Day Air Systems: Cushioning the Blow

Did you know skydiving and commercial potato production have something in common? Before they release their chutes, skydivers usually reach terminal velocity, which is the constant speed those falling bodies travel when air resistance prevents further acceleration. Air systems found in potato equipment are based on the same principle. The air inside the system is adjusted to meet the terminal velocity of the potato. Once the air is adjusted then that potato…

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