The functioning of most potato planters is based on transport and placement of the seed potatoes by a cup-belt. The capacity of this process is rather low when planting accuracy has to stay at acceptable levels. The main limitations are set by the speed of the cup-belt and the number and positioning of the cups. It was hypothesised that the inaccuracy in planting distance, that is the deviation from uniform planting distances, mainly is created by the construction of the cup-belt planter. To determine the origin of the deviations in uniformity of placement of the potatoes a theoretical model was built. The model calculates the time interval between each successive potato touching the ground. Referring to the results of the model, two hypotheses were posed, one with respect to the effect of belt speed, and one with respect to the influence of potato shape. A planter unit was installed in a laboratory to test these two hypotheses. A high-speed camera was used to measure the time interval between each successive potato just before they reach the soil surface and to visualise the behaviour of the potato. The results showed that: (a) the higher the speed of the cup-belt, the more uniform is the deposition of the potatoes; and (b) a more regular potato shape did not result in a higher planting accuracy. Major improvements can be achieved by reducing the opening time at the bottom of the duct and by improving the design of the cups and its position relative to the duct. This will allow more room for changes in the cup-belt speeds while keeping a high planting accuracy.
|Publication status||Published - 2006|