29 August 2019

Super-intensive almond crops. Harvesting days

We are immersed in the middle of the almond harvest season and our friends from CBH have provided us with some photos and information that we show you... it has been very interesting for us and we share it with you. CBH is a very specialized company in super-intensive almond, olive and pistachio crops, so their comments are really worthwhile.

Almonds have become fashionable in Spain only some years ago because the demand has increased and they have a very attractive price which makes it a very profitable crop. This fact led to 660,000 hectares of land being reached in Spain… but this has not stopped as it continues to grow year after year. In 2017, a Spanish production of around 65,000 tonnes was obtained and there is a forecast to double this production in the coming years. Spain ranks third in the world in terms of production with 4%, after the USA (80%) and Australia (7%). All this is thanks to the super-intensive almond crops which stand out for their high profitability, early entry into production, reduced costs, total mechanization, high production and rapid recovery of investment.

On this occasion we show you a few pictures of two farms “La Encomienda” and “Atalaya Baja” where you can see the harvesting tasks that were carried out this August with the New Holland machines (Braud 9090X Olive) that the company CBH uses. The plantation of La Encomienda is from October 2016 so this year is the first harvesting, with a yield of almond about 1,900 kg/ha, whose variety is “Guara”. Altalaya Baja farm was planted in July 2016 and this year is the second time it has been harvested, with a yield of almond about 1,200 kg/ha, whose variety is “Lauranne Rootpac 20”. The harvesting speed of the New Holland machine is approximately 1.5 he/h, so the harvesting work is going very well.

Some of the keys to the success of these super-intensive crops are planting frames together with yearly irrigations. In terms of planting frames, La Encomienda farm has opted for 3 x 1.35m (approximately 2,400 almond trees per hectare) and in the Atalaya Baja farm the planting frame used has been 4 x 1.35m (approximately 1,800 almond trees per hectare). The height of the trees is around 2.5 m, so it is necessary to do a little mechanize pruning every year... but we will talk about this pruning in future articles. As for irrigation, the system used is drip irrigation with an amount of about 200 L/m2 per year that added to the annual rains are the key to having a profitable production.

In Spain, the most common almond varieties are Marcona, Comuna and Largueta. Of which, Marcona is the best paid and it can reach 1€/kg higher than the other varieties. The price in recent years has been one of the most attractive features of almonds, since with an average price of about 5€/kg has made the super intensive almond trees a really profitable crop.

Versión en español.

07 August 2019

Steyr Traktoren: Field days in St. Valentin

Last July, Steyr Traktoren celebrated a few field days in the surroundings of its mythical factory in Sankt Valentin (Austria) which we had the opportunity to attend. Without a doubt, a very nice experience. Talking to my father and his friend José (people who have been farmers for more than 50 years), the first thing that came to mind when we told them we were going to visit the heart of Steyr tractors is that they are high-quality tractors or as they told us: "these tractors are very good, but they are not sold in Spain". Well, they were wrong about one comment, since Steyr's back.

That's right, Steyr tractors are back in Spain and Portugal with Farming Agrícola Company. Undoubtedly, very good news for Spanish farmers that we may have one more option when we want to buy a tractor and especially for farmers are looking for an exclusive tractor of high-quality, with continuous transmission and very high specifications. We think the idea of the CNHi group to which the Steyr brand belongs (together with New Holland and Case IH) is to position Steyr tractors in the orbit of brands such as Fendt, John Deere R Series or Deutz-Fahr Agrotron. Surely Farming Agrícola has access to those exclusive farmers and large farming companies that already work with brands such as Amazone, Krone, BvL, Tanco, ... to offer them an option to purchase high specification tractors such as the implements to which they are accustomed to using.

We were fortunate to be able to visit the Steyr-Case IH factory in the village of St. Valentin (Austria), where we took a tour of the factory and saw all the buildings that make up the entire factory complex (experience centre and auditorium, training centre, central offices, tractor assembly buildings, cab assembly, and R&D development). We liked the factory very much as it is a completely modernized factory (for example in the style we visited from Massey Ferguson, but smaller).

The assembly line produces about 46 tractors per day, generating about 10,000 annular tractors (about 600,000 tractors have been built since 1947), of which 80% are Case IH and 20% Steyr (which is only sold in 18 countries). The working hours were from 6:00 to 15:00 with one hour for lunch and I was struck by a large number of young kids who were working (by the way, only one woman on the assembly line). Regarding the working environment is very good, so it is always a guarantee of quality work. Looking at the manufacturing process, we are not able to see big differences between Case IH and Steyr tractors and even with the New Holland Auto Command™ Series tractors.

Regarding the cabins, they manufacture cabins for the group's three brands. The factory has closed planning for the next 3 months, so if you order a tractor today from the factory (if it is not in stock at some dealer), as soon as they can manufacture it at the end of the next three months, which means that the farmer would have to wait about 4 months to have his new Steyr on his farm.

The main novelties that were presented during the days we were in St. Valentin were the following:
  • The new range of EXPERT CVT tractors: Tractors with 4-cylinder engines Stage V and continuous transmission S-Control™ CVT.
  • The new 6-cylinder 6145 PROFI tractor: 6.7 litre FPT Ecotech engine
  • Semi-powershift transmission S-Control 8: 24x24 and 48x48 (STEYR Profi 6-cylinder with S-Control 8 transmission is not available for the Spanish and Portuguese markets)
  • S-Brake trailer braking system: when the tractor decelerates, it activates the trailer brakes automatically. It is only activated for speeds below 35 km/h
  • Multicontroller II arm, S-Tech 700 touch screen and S-Tech self-guiding package (RTK)

Finally, we were in the field to test the Steyr tractors as you can see in our videos below. The feeling when you go on a Steyr tractor is unbeatable because the cab has extraordinary finishes, the CVT transmission works really fine and very smoothly (both in the field and on the road), the engine management is done automatically and when you go with the self-guided connected, you really only have to observe how the tractor works autonomously.

There's no doubt that Steyr's back is good news because as his slogan says, it is a partner to rely on. We hope to see them soon in the fields of La Mancha, Quixote Land.

Versión en español.