11. Cost comparison between towed and self-propelled harvesters

by Hannes van Rensburg - 27 Apr 2016

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Harvesters are expensive and the purchase thereof should be carefully considered. The machine should be purchased for the right reasons and must be suited to the environment in which it will be used.

11.1 Considerations for the purchase of a self-propelled harvester

  • Great capital outlay, which can only be justified if the surface/tonnage to be harvested is large enough.
  • The speed is higher than a towed model.
  • Some companies rent out harvesters and enter into long term contracts with producers. Thus it is not always necessary to purchase a machine.
  • Producers can buy a harvester together to lower the capital outlay.
  • The capital input of self-propelled harvesters is utilised better when a multipurpose machine is purchased.
  • Variable costs of a multipurpose machine can be higher than those of a tractor.
  • When a multipurpose machine is purchased, the training of the operator is very important. Training must include different practices which can be executed by the same machine and knowledge of the difference practices must be sufficient.

11.2 Considerations when purchasing a towed harvester

  • These harvesters are cheaper than self-propelled harvesters.
  • A tractor is required to use the machine. This tractor can however also be used for other practices during the rest of the year.
  • A towed harvester requires a bigger turning space at the end of the row compared to a self-propelled machine.
  • Minimum tractor size is 56 kW (75 hp).
  • The tractor can have two- or four-wheel drive. This consideration depends on the terrain where the tractor and harvester are going to be used.
  • Four-wheel drive tractors are ideal on sandy terrains, or where there is large amount of loose sand/rocks. These tractors however require a bigger turning space than two-wheel drive tractors.
  • The harvesting tempo of the towed model is lower than that of the self-propelled harvester.

11.3 Cost comparison between the two types of harvesters

This comparison is summed up in two tables, namely self-propelled harvester (Table 1) and towed model harvester
(Table 2). The values in these tables were compiled according to the following assumptions:

Self-propelled harvester:

  • Purchase value: R 3 200 000
  • Scrap value: R 320 000 (10 % of purchase value)
  • Lifetime: 5 000 hours
  • Harvest capacity: 10 tons/hour
  • Fuel consumption: 12 litres/hour
  • Depreciation: (purchase value – scrap value) ÷ lifetime
  • Insurance & licence: 1 % of average investment ÷ hours per year
  • Interest costs: 9 % of average investment ÷ hours per year
  • Repairs & maintenance: 35 % of purchase value ÷ lifetime
  • Fuel costs: Calculated at a diesel price of R 13/litre

Towed harvester:

  • Purchase value: R 1 600 000
  • Scrap value: R 160 000 (10 % of purchase value)
  • Lifetime: 5 000 hours
  • Harvest capacity: 7 tons/hour
  • Depreciation: (purchase value – scrap value) ÷ lifetime
  • Insurance & licence: 1 % of average investment ÷ hours per year
  • Interest costs: 9 % of average investment ÷ hours per year
  • Repairs & maintenance: 35 % of purchase value ÷ lifetime
  • Tractor costs: Running costs (assuming that the tractor is already owned) calculated on 56 kW four-wheel drive
    at medium power.

From abovementioned, it is clear that the choice of harvester must be well thought through. Factors to be taken into account include harvest size, the terrain on which the machine will be used, whether it is a multipurpose machine or not, the training of the operator (especially with multipurpose machines) and whether a machine will be shared or not.

Table 1: Costs calculated from the abovementioned assumptions for a self-propelled harvester

Tons harvestedAnnual usageDepreciationInsurance & licenceInterest costsTotal fixed costsRepairs & maintenanceFuel costsVariable costsTotal costsCost per ton
(tons)(hours)(R/hour)(R/hour)(R/hour)(R/hour)(R/hour)(R/hour)(R/hour)(R/hour)R/hour)
1000100576176158423362241563802716272
1250125576141126719842241563802364236
1500150576117105617492241563802129213
1750175057610190515822241563801962196
20002005768879214562241563801836184
22502255767870413582241563801738174
25002505767063412802241563801660166
27502755766457612162241563801596160
35003505765045310792241563801459146
40004005764439610162241563801396140

 

Table 2: Costs calculated from the abovementioned assumptions for a towed harvester

Tons harvestedAnnual usageDepreciationInsurance & licenceInterest costsTotal fixed costsRepairs & maintenanceVariable costsTotal costsTractor costTotal cost of trailer & tractorCost per ton
(tons)(hours)(R/hour)(R/hour)(R/hour)(R/hour)(R/hour)(R/hour)(R/hour)(R/hour)(R/hour)R/hour)
500712881231109152011238016321951827261
75010728882739110911238012211951416202
10001432886255490411238010161951211173
1250179288494447811123808931951088155
1500214288413706991123808111951006144
175025028835317640112380752195947135
200028628831277596112380708195903129
220031428828252568112380680195875125
240034328826231545112380657195852122
300042928821185493112380605195800114
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