Economic Efficiency of Mechanized Harvesting of Sugarcane at Different Operating Speeds
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Sugarcane is highlighted in Brazilian agribusiness; however, some operations must be investigated from a technical and economic point of view, such as harvesting. The objective of this work was to estimate the cost of a sugarcane harvester as a function of its operational performance. The experiment was carried out in a sugar and alcohol unit in Tietê-SP/Brazil. The harvest occurred without prior burning of sugarcane field, in an area with an estimated productivity of 92.5 Mg ha−1. The operational and energetic performance of the machine were evaluated and the cost of operation at three working speeds (3.0, 5.0 and 7.0 km h−1) was estimated. It was observed that the work speed is related to the operational costs, volumetric fuel consumption accounted for 41–49% of total operation costs, while depreciation of the machine accounted for 14–17%, and repair and maintenance costs 11–14%. Results showed that the average speed of 7 km h−1 was the one that presented the best economic performance in harvesting operation. Travel speeds significantly affected the operational performance of sugarcane harvester and showed a positive correlation with volumetric fuel consumption. Field capacity and variable costs were proportional to the working speeds. The biggest impact on harvester costs were the volumetric fuel consumption, the depreciation of the agricultural machine and the costs with repairs and maintenance of the harvester.