Wet conditions no problem for potato harvester

Neale Byart spoke to Shropshire grower Robin Griffiths to see how he’s found potato harvesting with a self-propelled Puma in less-than-ideal conditions.

AVR Puma
Shropshire grower, Robin Griffiths.

Specialist potato harvesting machinery manufacturer, AVR has been producing self-propelled 4-row potato harvesters since 1975, and launched the Puma in 2006. Now on the fourth generation, the Puma remains the showpiece of the AVR range, with more than 550 units sold since its launch.

The heavy-duty and user-friendly machine can process up to 100 tonnes of potatoes per hour and can even continue working in wet weather conditions. With the Puma 4.0, the digging unit can also be converted for harvesting carrots or picking up onions.

Optionally, the machine can also digitally link with the online AVR Connect platform for increased efficiency. AVR Connect is an online reporting tool for machine activities, and records machine data, both on and off the field. The data it provides allows for a more effective use of the machine, such as applying precision farming techniques.

Exceeding expectations

Robin Griffiths is a potato grower from Shropshire. Farming around 1,000ha, Robin has been using his Puma for four seasons, having acquired it in 2021 to replace a different brand.

“It’s fantastic,” Robin commented. “It has good balance, does everything it should, is not too complex, performs very well, and is noticeably fuel efficient. It has met all my expectations, and then some.

“I also have a great relationship with the manufacturing team. They are farmers themselves and are therefore in touch with what I need from a machine like this.”

Although Robin has primarily dealt directly with the manufacturer and the support teams in Belgium and the Netherlands, local dealer TR Machinery has also offered invaluable back-up.

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“When I bought the Puma, it was the first model of the latest generation harvester to be available in the UK and we suffered a minor teething problem which required a replacement part.

“Between the local dealer and the team in Belgium, the required part was located in Belgium, delivered to the UK and put in a taxi so that I had it in my hands the very next day. I really couldn’t have asked for more.”

In the field

“The Puma is a beautiful machine with a comfortable cab, which all the operators appreciate. It is so quiet that when I call them, that I can’t even hear the machine in the background and conversations can be held at normal levels. It also has a great camera system.”

Robin and his team of operators find the Puma to be very stable, and he says it operates at an impressive speed in the field.

AVR Puma

He aims to harvest around 500t/day at peak times, and comments that the Puma will achieve 400 tonnes comfortably, so he has no complaints about performance at all. But what’s more impressive, Robin reckons, is the wide range of conditions the Puma can operate in.

“It has a very broad bandwidth when it comes to the weather. We had extremely wet ground throughout 2023 and particularly dry conditions in 2022 and it dealt with both satisfactorily with no damage. The machine has been refined in Europe for years, and is shipped all over the world where it will experience just about every type of weather and ground conditions, so it has been tested and proven in just about every combination we could throw at it.”

Data collaboration

Robin has not experienced AVR Connect as he bought a lower-spec machine, but has already decided that he’ll go with the option on his next Puma purchase. “I like the idea of the historical data it can provide, as well as fertiliser and GPS data.

“In Europe, farmers appear to be more collaborative when it comes to sharing this sort of information. In the UK we are less so, but I would definitely like to see a more collaborative approach adopted here.”

Future plans

While he’s aware that the Puma 4.0 is a versatile machine, Robin doesn’t have the need to convert it for alternative crops. “I don’t harvest carrots or onions, so I haven’t tested its ability in this area. I know others who do and would be happy to do so myself, if needed. Overall, it’s fair to say that I am very happy with the Puma 4.0. I hear there is a Puma 5.0 being worked on and will be very interested to see what changes they make, and what new features it brings because, as far as I’m concerned, they have got it just about spot on with the current model,” Robin concludes.

Visit the AVR website for more information

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