It’s called the food chain because, like a chain, every component is linked to the other. Take for example forage, more commonly known as the hay and grass used to feed livestock. When harvested, the rotating element, what the industry calls a wheel rake, picks up dust, stones and other forms of debris. When consumed by a cow, this debris has a negative effect on the quality and quantity of dairy production – the dairy that is used to produce the milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream we all depend on. According to Italian agricultural equipment producer Repossi Macchine Agricole, the answer to this problem is a better rake. With the support of EU funding, the company developed RA-RAKE, an innovative, patented double-wheel rake that not only limits contaminating debris to just 0.6 %, but also increases harvesting speed while reducing energy consumption. And all at an affordable price. “When considering the net increase in milk production and reduction in management cost, it is estimated that the average farmer using the RA-RAKE will come out EUR 35 000 ahead every year,” says Mr Gabriele Repossi, RA-RAKE project coordinator. “For the consumer, these savings are passed on in the form of higher-quality dairy products available at lower prices.” A double-wheeled solution Farmers have typically favoured the star wheel rake due to it being the fastest and cheapest option on the market. Unfortunately, it also collects a substantial amount of stone, dust and dirt. Other options, such as comb rakes or merger rakes, are either too slow or too expensive. “When discussing this conundrum with a client, I was told that the ideal machine would offer the speed and cost-effectiveness of a star wheel rake and the forage quality of a comb rake,” says Repossi. “You could say that this conversation planted the seed that would grow into the RA-RAKE.” Back at the drawing board, Repossi soon saw that by adding a second wheel to the rake, farmers could leverage the benefits of wheel rakes without contaminating the forage. The resulting double-wheel rake, or RA-RAKE, utilises two wheels of different diameters. The larger of the two, which touches the ground, is used to guide the smaller frontal wheel, which can rake the forage without scooping up any rocks or dirt. Since the machine doesn’t use complex, expensive mechanisms to move the smaller wheel, the purchase price and maintenance costs remain minimal. Its simplicity is also what allows the rake to be operated at high speeds. “Compared to other rakes, using RA-RAKE lowers contamination by 66 %,” adds Repossi. “Thanks to its high working speed – up to 20 kilometres per hour in the field – farmers also gain important savings in terms of working hours.” Accelerated development Already available on the market, Repossi and his team are currently working on an updated version that meets user needs even better. “Thanks to this project, we were able to accelerate our time to market, essentially cutting the development process in half,” Repossi says.
RA-RAKE, Repossi Macchine Agricole, forage, rake, dairy production, agricultural equipment, double-wheel rake