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Sugarcane Harvesting System: a Critical Overview

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

Citation:  Paper number  131574361,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: @2013
Authors:   Shaochun Ma, Manoj Karkee, Qin Zhang
Keywords:   biofuel feedstocks; sugarcane harvesting; environmental consequences; cost-effectiveness; sustainability.

Abstract. In this paper, a critical literature review of sugarcane harvesting systems in the context of sugar and biofuel production is conducted. For sugar production, sugarcane field burning is carried out worldwide before harvesting to get rid of leaves and tops which would impede the harvest operation. However, field burning has environmental consequences. Hence, the improvement in harvester performance will have an effect on cost-effectiveness and sustainability of sugarcane production and also on the success of biofuel production. Sugarcane is one of the most efficient biofuel feedstocks in commercial use. Harvest cost comprises a major component of overall sugarcane production cost. We surveyed the merits and limitations of chopped billet and whole stalk harvesting systems. Whole stalk harvesting can reduce juice loss and sugar deterioration while chopped billet harvesting has higher efficiencies in handling high-tonnage and bent stalks. Moreover, new technologies and innovations applied on cane harvesters for improving harvesting efficiencies and qualities are investigated. Finally, major issues requiring further research are identified and corresponding recommendations are made for future studies. Analyzing the current issues and challenges, the main outcome of this review is the identification of potential solutions that can be investigated to improve sugarcane harvesting efficiency. Effective and efficient harvesting can make sugarcane production more viable, profitable and sustainable, especially for biofuel use since it requires collecting both of stalks and trash.

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