|Parsnips being harvested with the Asa-Lift|
Now that I have given you an example of the efficiency that certain farm equipment can bring, let me tell you a bit about the Asa-Lift, our single row root crop harvester. I had the pleasure of hearing about the workings of the Asa-Lift from the main operator, Rafael. One of the most important things that was stressed in my discussion is that the settings on the Asa-Lift must be precise in order for it to operate at its best. That being said, there are a lot of things to pay attention to so the precision is there. The front of the Asa-Lift has a leaf row cutter that separates the leaves from one row to the next.
|Leaf row cutter, plow & torpedo bars|
|Rubber fingers to clean dirt|
|Asa-Lift harvesting with the 2nd tractor pulling flat rack|
In total it takes two tractors, and 4-5 people to make this operation work. Both tractors must travel in synchrony to make this work. One or two people ride on the flat rack to “catch” the produce with the pad and one to pick out the leaves and culls. One person also walks behind the Asa-Lift to watch the operation and pick up any leftover roots from the field. Rafael has many different things to pay attention to when he is operating the Asa-Lift.
He has to make sure that everything is working correctly because if there is one setting even a few inches off, it can either do damage to the crop, plug up the conveyer, or the dirt may not all get cleaned off. Another thing that is always on his mind is the safety of everyone around the Asa-Lift when it is in operation. He likes to work with the same crew as they are familiar with how it should be running when it is working properly and also the things that should be watched for safety reasons. On the tractor with the Asa-Lift is a small square box of controls that is right at the fingertips of Rafael and it runs all of the different components of the Asa-Lift, from the PTO to the pumps to moving the conveyer. Rafael is very keen to listen when the machine is running as he can tell by the sounds if something needs to be adjusted or looked at. Rafael has a very important job running the machine and he takes it very seriously. If one small thing is overlooked it can cause something big and unpleasant to happen.
|Rafael running the Asa-Lift|
With the Asa-Lift they can harvest approximately 9 different root crops and they can fill up to 40 – 50 bins per day depending on the produce being harvested. Now if this were to be done manually, it would take 10 people 4 hours to fill 6-8 bins with produce. We still have many crops that involve lifting crates and hand harvest, but whenever possible we use pallet jacks, machinery, and forklifts to harvest and move heavy roots.
The Asa-Lift was purchased from Denmark because no machines are made in this country for small vegetable farms like ours. Another important benefit of the Asa-Lift is that it can be used at any time, even if there has been a stretch of rain, where manual harvest would be affected. This should give you an idea of why the Asa-Lift is such an important piece of machinery. Besides the time factor, it also saves on back strain that could be caused by all of the manual work that would need to be done.
|Bins of celeriac being harvested by the Asa-Lift.|
Vicente is on the flat rack catching celeriac and
pulling off extra leaves. Each bin holds 600-800 pounds of roots!