[Market-farming] root digger implement options

KAKerby at aol.com KAKerby at aol.com
Sun Aug 19 01:45:25 EDT 2012


Thanks for this; I had always seen different implements in the field for  
different root crops, but never a straightforward guide for which tool to use 
 for which crop. I suspected different shapes/depths/growing habits would 
need  different implements.  I wanted to stay away from specialized machines  
which could dig "this" but not "that".  Never occurred to me that it wasn't 
 really the machine per se, but rather the shape of the digging portion 
and/or  how it "throws" the crop out of the ground.  From the sounds of it, I 
might  be able to get a wide multi-row toolbar with a variety of tools 
(shanks vs disks  vs spades, etc) and just mix-n-match as I need to for each crop. 
I like that  idea a lot.  Simple, cheap, flexible, and probably reasonably  
efficient.  And yes, it was the manual labor which killed us when we grew  
our first big plot of potatoes.  I knew we could never get away with that  
again.  Hence the desire for some digging implements.
 
I also very much like the idea of selling the best, feeding the rest.   I 
was thinking along the lines of "all of X crop for this vs that  purpose".  
Simplistic, but limiting.  No reason I have to be so  narrow-minded with the 
planning.
 
As for books from 1860, I'd dearly love to know if you have any favorites  
which talk about either root crops and/or non-grain veggie crops (squash 
comes  immediately to mind) as fodder for livestock.  I have two early editions 
of  Morrisons Feeds & Feeding, but I'm always interested in other  
titles/authors.  Feeds are so heavily geared towards grains these days,  probably 
because they can be dried down further than anything else, and thus are  
easier to ship long distances.  I'm trying to find a variety of crops we  can 
feed as fodder, but the root crops had me stymied in terms of efficient  
harvest.  Now I've got some options for that part of things.
 
Thanks again!  And keep the ideas coming!  They're all  welcome!
Kathryn Kerby
frogchorusfarm.com
Snohomish, WA
Ruminations - essays on the farming life at  frogchorusfarm.com/weblog.html
 
 
In a message dated 8/18/2012 9:22:56 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time,  
MAsteveINE at 207me.com writes:

FWIW   Potatoes are dug with a spade which lifts the row and  sends the 
vines one way 
and the potatoes another after sifting out the dirt.
Carrots are harvested by running a coulter or shank on each side of the  
row and then 
picking up the crop by its tops.
Beets ..red or sugar, are topped in the field and then lifted by concave  
discs which 
send the crop into devices which load them into trucks.
 
My favorite books, the books from 1860, which talk of feeding stock on  all 
manor of nutrient produced on the farm
emphasize that what you have is what you should feed. They loved  roots, 
but took the steps to market the
finest part of a crop and feed the lessor quality.
 
I am thinking it would be interesting to see some fact finding on the  
callories per acre comparing grains and vegetables.
 
One thing I know for sure............the cost of labor will be the killer  
on any small operation; you cant dig 
potatoes with a hoe as cow feed for profit. 
 
MAsteveINE
 
 
 
 
 

----- Original Message ----- 
From:  _KAKerby at aol.com_ (mailto:KAKerby at aol.com)  
To: _market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org_ 
(mailto:market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org)   
Sent: Saturday, August 18, 2012 10:34  PM
Subject: [Market-farming] root digger  implement options


We are considering expanding our root crops next year, for livestock  
feeding purposes.  When I say "root crops" I generally mean potatoes,  mangels, 
rutabagas, parsnips and/or large turnips.  Maybe some of the  larger carrot 
varieties, but these will definitely be for livestock feed,  not for market.  
So "pretty" isn't important.  But harvesting them  quickly and 
cost-effectively is very important.
 
The last time I planted potatoes, I spent what seemed like the next  three 
years manually harvesting them.  The first harvest was to get  them out of 
the ground that October, and it seemed to take forever.   But we had 
volunteers coming up for several years later, which tells me that  I really didn't 
do a good job digging them up manually.  It was such a  distasteful job the 
first time around I swore I'd never grow them again  other than for 
occasional home use.  But now here we are, thinking how  nice it would be to be able 
to grow them on a larger scale, IF we can figure  out how to harvest them 
more effectively.
 
I Googled "potato digger" and got a wide variety of implements,  ranging 
from black-and-white photos of what Grandpa used "back in the  day", to shiny 
new looks-about-the-right-size imported from China, to  industrial-sized 
monsters that could eat my house.  I'm looking for an  implement that will 
efficiently harvest a wide variety of root  crops, be small enough to pull 
behind a 20hp tractor with Class 1  three-pt hitch, large enough to comfortably 
harvest a few acres of any given  kind of root crop, without costing the 
amount of a small country's yearly  operating budget.  Oh, and since we're 
fantasizing here, it should  be readily available on the used market for 
not-very-much-money, with  easy-to-find replacement parts, and be simple enough that 
we can service in  our own workshop or hire a local skilled mechanic, 
rather than exporting it  back to whatever was its distant country-of-origin for 
repairs.
 
Any suggestions as to make/model/manufacturer?  And if my  fantasy machine 
doesn't exist, what are my options from amongst the tools  that do exist?  
Thanks all.......
Kathryn Kerby
frogchorusfarm.com
Snohomish, WA
Ruminations - essays on the farming life at  frogchorusfarm.com/weblog.html
 
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