The need for clean beet before chopping has seen a number of agricultural engineering firms develop washing or combination washing and chopping solutions.

A large number of these are loader-mounted to suit either a tractor or larger versions for dedicated materials handlers. The concept is not new – Hi Spec and Tanco developed machines that would do both and could be mounted on a loader. Tanco still manufactures its Cleanafeed machine, while Cross Engineering has a range of beet-washing designs including engine- and electric-powered units.

A number of newcomers were seen at this year’s National Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Co Laois. These included a version from Robbie Campion from Urlingford, Co Kilkenny, and Co Carlow firm Future Grass Technology.


Robbie’s beet washer incorporates a number of unique and novel features. The base section is designed and built similar to a beet basket, with 25mm round bars and a 33mm gap between each bar.

Inside the bucket is a hydraulically driven cross-shaft, with three pairs of leg-type paddles mounted on it. On the end of each pair of legs are paddles to agitate the beet in opposite directions. Each paddle has a rubber pad bolted to it to minimise bruising of the beet.

When cleaning the beet, it is first agitated dry to remove loose dirt and clay. Loader brackets are mounted high up on the beet washing bucket to allow it to be dunked in a suitable water bath where the beet is again agitated.

The size of the bucket and the positioning of the attachment brackets would make it difficult for beet to be tipped into a chopper or feeder. To get around this problem, Robbie has cleverly designed his beet-washing bucket with a hydraulically operated trap door in the basket-type base.

Robbie’s washer unit has a considerable capacity of 1.35t of washed beet so a farm handler, telescopic loader, shovel or digger is needed to carry this weight. A third hydraulic service is required to operate the cleaning system and trap door. An electro-hydraulic diverter valve on the machine splits the loader’s third service to operate either rotor or trap door.

The capacity of Robbie’s (086-874 1064) beet washer is in the region of 30t per hour and it costs from €7,200 plus VAT.

Future Grass Technology

Launched at the Ploughing from Future Grass Technology was another loader-mounted feeder/chopper. The firm’s new beet washer and chopper is a closed bucket design, with an opening front-cage section. The closed bucket design allows it to be used for feeding meal, maize and other loose material.

With beet loaded on board and the cage closed, the bucket is inverted and a hydraulically driven cross-shaft with paddles agitates the crop. Clay and debris drops out through the front cage and it can be submerged in water to complete the cleaning process.

The unit is driven hydraulically by the loader’s third service function. A second hydraulic diverter on the unit splits the oil flow once more for cage or agitator operation.

It is available in two capacities – a 0.5t version and a 1t version, which weigh 560kg and 760kg respectively when empty. Pricing is €7,500 plus VAT for the smaller version and €9,000 plus VAT for the 1t machine.

Finance options are available from Future Grass Technology (087-279 4430).

Hi Spec Engineering

Hi Spec Engineering Ltd (059-972 1929) from Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, relaunched its root chopper attachment last year. Some years ago, Hi Spec developed an integrated feeder with root chopper on board. This catered for the demand to utilise leftover sugar beet, as well as fodder beet and other root crops.

Its latest root chopper is based on the firm’s original design, which was available as an option on its paddle-type mixer feeders. Hi Spec has adapted the original design and it can now be fitted to its range of vertical mixer feeders, as well as its paddle mixer feeders as an optional extra. The core of the root chopper design is much the same as the firm has used in the past, a tried and tested machine. On early paddle mixer feeders, drive to the chopper unit was mechanical through a drive shaft down the side of the Mix-Max wagon.

Hi Spec has redeveloped the root chopper drive mechanism so that it is now hydraulically driven. The new system allows for easier installation on vertical mixer feeders and it can also be fitted to horizontal paddle-type mixer feeders. The chopper can be operated and controlled directly from the tractor.

Capacity of the root chopper hopper is 500kg according to the company. Whole beet is fed via a chain elevator, which cleans the beet as it passes to the chopping drum. A spring-loaded chopper bar then allows the user to chop the root crop into nuggets from 0.375in to 0.750in in seconds.

The chopped beet is fed directly into the tub as it is chopped and a hydraulic control allows the farmer to only chop exactly what he needs. In total, the contents of a full 500kg hopper can be chopped in approximately 90 seconds according to Hi Spec. Stone protection is provided as standard to eliminate damage to the chopper. A smaller elevator chain is also optional for smaller root vegetables, such as carrots or potatoes.

The root chopper option retails at €6,350 plus VAT.

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Focus: Winter feeding equipment