Originally beet-harvesting equipment simply meant beets forks, these differed from normal forks in that they have at least ten teeth with spherical ends, to avoid injuring the beet. In addition, rakes were also used in the beet harvest. They were pulled by a horse or tractor and used for the raking of beet leaves. Meanwhile, beet-harvesting equipment came to be dominated by self-propelled, three- to six-row lifters. The first beet harvesters were drawn by tractors, these early beet harvester have been almost entirely replaced by self-propelled lifters.
In terms of beet harvesting equipment, we can distinguish between two different methods. When beet-harvester trailers, the beets are harvested in two stages. The leaf trimmer in the front attachment first removes the leaves and stems from the beet, the lifter, which is drawn by the harvester then gathers the beets. In this situation, the tractor is equipped with narrow tyres, so that it can drive between the rows to prevent damage to the beets, which have not yet been harvested. With the second type of beet harvesting equipment, all the necessary steps are carried out by a machine. The removal of the leaves and stem, grubbing, cleaning and storage in the machine hopper, are all undertaken by a so-called full-harvester. Basically almost all of the machinery used for beet harvesting is equipped with diesel engines, with six-row self-propelled machines, the motors have a power range between 380 HP and 600 HP.
After the sugar beet harvest the crop can either be removed straight away, or the beets can be piled in clamps at the edges of the field and later roughly cleaned by cleaner loaders, loaded on a truck or trailer and taken away. The beet clamps are covered for protection against the weather, sometimes straw is used, but more often the covering is fleece and/or foil. The leaves which have been separated from the beets are sometimes left on the field to act as fertiliser or they can be fed to livestock fresh or as silage.
The general recommendation regarding the height of the clamps is between two and three and a half meters. At high temperatures, the pile should remain fairly flat, when there is a risk of frost it should be built higher. However, the beets cannot just be piled up, as this can lead to the beets breaking, which in turn causes a loss of sugar, because the beet use sugar during storage for energy or to repair damage. In addition, harmful microorganisms can rapidly penetrate into a damaged beet, which leads to crop losses.