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Development of a Semi-Automated Tobacco Stripping Machine Utilizing String Trimmers

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2011 Louisville, Kentucky, August 7-10, 2011  1110973.(doi:10.13031/2013.37379)
Authors:   Robert G Sperry, John H Wilhoit, George Duncan
Keywords:   Tobacco, Engineering, Leaf Removal, Tobacco Stripping Machine, Tobacco Mechanization

Conventional stripping of burley tobacco is labor intensive and typically requires 50 to 75 worker hours per acre (wkrhr/ac). The goal of the project was to reduce labor by optimizing leaf removal by string trimmer heads using combinations of strings lengths and motor speeds. In tests conducted on a single grade, all leaves outside the grade were removed by hand. Plants were run through the machine for sting lengths of 5, 7 and 9 in. [13, 18, and 23 cm] and associated motor speeds which were monitored and recorded. Stripping efficiencies were calculated for each plant and collectively for each set of four plants. The machine was then tested for three grade stripping efficiency. Particle size analysis tests were run to determine potential losses due to leaf shredding. Efficiencies for single grade testing ranged from 93 to 96% for optimal string length and speed combinations. Stripping three grades by machine resulted in an average of 97% efficiency. Potential losses due to shredding accounted for 5.6% of the total weight mechanically removed. It is believed that this stripping concept, implemented on a full scale four grade basis, could result in savings of at least 18 wkr hr/ac [45 wkrhr/ha].

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