INSIDERS Potato Equipment Want Harvest Efficiency? Get Mobile

Want Harvest Efficiency? Get Mobile


As farms consolidate, the labour market tightens, and agricultural margins shrink, potato growers today need to get more done faster, with fewer hands and at less cost. Never is this truer than at harvest, when maximizing efficiency can make the difference between beating winter or leaving acres in the ground. Here’s how mobile cleaning and handling equipment delivers:

  1. No driving tare (waste) to and from your yard — Traditionally, farmers have transported rocks, dirt and harvest debris from field to yard along with their uncleaned potatoes, only to pile the tare in space-stealing piles or use time, fuel and equipment to transport the tare back to the field. Cleaning in-field keeps tare out of your trucks and away from your yard, maximizing transportation efficiency.
  2. In-field efficiency — Stationary cleaning units made sense when farmers produced on a single field located close to their storage yard. That’s no longer the case for many – probably most – producers. Mobile cleaning allows the efficient sharing of equipment between multiple yards and to geographically distant fields. Producers shipping directly to processing can clean and ship right from the field, eliminating unnecessary mileage back to the storage yard without risking penalties for tare.
  3. Biocontrol — Who wants to introduce new weeds, pests or diseases to a field that didn’t already contend with that issue? No one I know. Keeping dirt, rocks and debris in the field they originated can help reduce contamination between fields and just makes biocontrol sense.
  4. Speed — A quality mobile unit will clean as well or better than a non-mobile unit. In many cases, in fact, improved technologies in today’s mobile units means better, quicker cleaning with fewer hands than older-style machines. And, look for highway speed tow-ability.
  5. Easy and intuitive control — Not everyone loves learning new technologies. If you’d prefer to be harvesting potatoes than reading a manual, look for ease of operation when considering your options. Lockwood’s VACS Mobile, for example, offers intuitive, touch-screen control of all hydraulics.
  6. No more jimmy-rigging — Farmers operating from multiple yards or distant fields long ago found ways to retrofit mobility onto non-mobile machines. Unfortunately, moving machines which aren’t purpose-built to move means parts get beat up and worn out, reducing equipment’s functional lifespan.
  7. Efficient human resource use — Some mobile equipment, such as Lockwood’s VACS Mobile cleaning line, can be prepped for hauling in as little as half an hour by just one person. Lockwood’s Mobile Tank features a telescoping conveyor which follows the pile backwards, helping to fully empty the tank without an operator. We estimate  the return on investment for both the VACS Mobile and the Mobile Tank, based only on labor savings, is about 2.5 years on average.
Karl Abrahamson
Karl Abrahamson
Electrical Engineer, Lockwood Manufacturing - Karl is no stranger to potato equipment, having spent 11 years as an Electrical Engineer with LOCKWOOD Manufacturing. Karl holds a Bachelor of Science degree from North Dakota State University and is dedicated to helping advance the innovation of potato equipment. He has led multiple electrical design projects for LOCKWOOD.