By Chris McCullough
A roundup of the innovation found at Agritechnica 2019, from robotic sprayers to garlic harvest inventions.
By Chris McCullough
Trade shows and conventions offer growers the chance to peruse industry innovations, learn about new machinery and speak to like-minded individuals. Here’s a roundup of just some of the innovation found at Agritechnica 2019, a biennial trade fair held in Hanover, Germany.
Harvesting garlic the easy way
Harvesting garlic is made easy with the French-built Erme RE1 single row harvester. It is connected to the tractor via a three-point linkage and harvests on the side of the tractor with a minimal distance of 35 centimetres between rows. The harvest system is composed of two front leaf lifters, a shoe for lifting the garlic heads, manual depth adjustment and two harvesting belts with manual height adjustment. Garlic is cut with precision due to the double disc system. A lateral conveyor belt with steel bars takes the garlic to a big bag or box. A tractor with at least 70 horsepower is required to drive this harvester. It can travel at a speed of up to six kilometres per hour.
Reducing pesticide use
Designed to help organic farmers keep weeds at bay and reduce pesticides use on other farms, the new Horsch Cura ST was launched at Agritechnica. This three-point linkage harrow comes in different widths, ranging from six to 15 metres. It comprises a six-bar design with tine spacing of 2.8 centimetres. The support pressure of the harrow tines is continuously hydraulically adjustable. Every tine is fastened individually and efficiently secured against being pushed to the side.
An autonomous robotic sprayer
John Deere introduced an autonomous robotic electric powered sprayer at Agritechnica. This novel machine was designed purposely smaller in size to operate 24 hours per day and to work part of a team of multiple units. It has a 560-litre spray tank and a 30-foot boom. The high ground clearance of 1.9 metres and four-wheel steering make it extremely versatile, while the four tracks minimize ground pressure and greatly extend the operating window. Although there is a lot more development work required before this machine becomes a reality, John Deere says it is confident this approach will be popular in years to come.
VP precision drill from Kubota
Kubota’s pneumatic precision seed drill VP range is suitable for a large variety of natural, coated or pelleted seeds like onion, cabbage, spinach, carrot and asparagus. The VP is available with rigid frame or as a parallel hydraulic folding model, with working width from two to 6.5 metres. The machine can be adjusted to a height of up to 34 centimetres for field, bed or ridged cropping systems via the holes on an adjustment bar on the suspension. The standard gearbox allows seed spacing of 0.9 to 43.4 centimetres. The chain wheels can be changed without the need for tools. Various coulters are available, including standard coulter, band coulter, sickle-shaped coulter and twin coulter.
Anatis robot still turning heads
Although not new, the Carre Anatis weeding robot was still a very popular exhibit at the show. This robot is an agricultural tool that helps vegetable farmers in their daily work by independently carrying out a number of jobs including hoeing. As it is connected via smartphone technology to the farm office, it can help with decision-making through monitoring crops and processing of key indicators. Anatis collects data on the presence of weeds, density and progress of the crop, luminosity, hygrometry and the temperature of the soil and the air.
It works the ground to mechanically weed the soil, providing better water infiltration at the foot of the crop and optimizing inputs. It moves using a laser, camera and GPS guidance unit, and its electric motor means it is environmentally friendly. It weighs 1,000 kilograms and is 2.2 metres long by 2 metres wide and 1.9 metres high.
Suitable for vegetable growers of all sizes
Designed to sow vegetable seeds with precision, the Sfoggia Calibra is a small seed vacuum planter suitable for all size of growers. A variety of models and a wide array of options allow Calibra to be configured for almost any planting situation. The Calibra models feature one-, two-, or three-line planting from each metering unit. They have a stainless steel seed hopper and a vacuum system for easy clean-out. Specifically designed to allow for close seed line spacing while maintaining individually floating chassis, the Calibra Slim can be configured to plant lines as close as five inches with standard equipment. Spacing can be further reduced to 2.5 inches with the addition of two-line shoes. Typical Calibra Slim crops include high density head lettuce, leek, onion, and all crops that require accurate, close row spacing.