In the mid-1990s, Nash attended a farm auction in Woodburn, OR, and purchased a 50-year-old Scott Viner root harvester. This improbable-looking device is pulled behind a tractor, and harvests root veggies, like carrots, placing them directly into a bin on a truck bed running alongside.
The harvester has belts running every-which-way to power more belts, pulleys, chains, elevators, and knives. A rider uses hydraulic levers and other manual controls to steer, control the depth, steer the belt that dumps roots in the bins, and control the speed of the conveyor. Add a conveyor that hangs out about eight feet to the side, and enough rust to indicate that it has been operating for at least 75 years, and you’ve got a classic piece of farm machinery—looks dilapidated and can be very challenging, but still gets the job done.
A shoe at the front of the machine lifts the carrots. Twin belts grab the greens and lift the carrots out of the ground, conveying them toward the rear. Two sets of interlocking knives grab the greens and cut them from the carrots, which then fall onto a conveyor. The conveyor moves the carrots out the back of the machine where another conveyor takes them up an elevator and dumps them directly into a bin on the truck.
If anything will screw up the operation of this machine, it’s an abundance of weeds. They clog up the function of the knives and the chute where the greens are expelled from the harvester. But considering how much labor would be entailed to harvest bulk carrots by hand, we are glad to have this vintage machine, and the folks who are willing to operate it!