21 February 2020

For the maize stubble... the plough

The use of the plough is beneficial although nowadays many farms have very consolidated direct sowing and in addition many times it is the only way to be able to get to the right place at the right time. However, in some cases the ploughing of stubble is very necessary, especially in irrigated fields that have been sown with maize or sunflower. This is due to the fact that the soil becomes very hard with irrigation and the tracks of tractors, combines, pivots, etc. are very marked. We have been talking to our friend Fernando Martín (from Medina de Rioseco - Valladolid), who was ploughing the stubble of maize with his Pöttinger Servo 35 S plough and his John Deere 6190 R.

The plough is five-furrow with a distance between furrows of 1.10 m. It is a very long distance that certainly helps to have good relief, but the plough is much heavier when it is suspended. In fact, he had trouble lifting it until they adjusted the chassis of the third point of the plough to a higher position. The mouldboards are slatted mouldboards, so it relieves weight and also works very well on wet fields as it loosens the soil better and generates less traction. As for the non-stop system, it is a hydropneumatic system that can be configured from the tractor to vary the pressure and therefore the triggering aggressiveness (it normally works at around 100 bar). If you have fields without stones, a plough with fuse safety system is recommended, but if you have stones or work on very hard soil, the hydro-pneumatic system is highly recommended as it works much better than the leaf spring and is much more comfortable to adapt to soil conditions. One of the main advantages of fuse ploughs is that the first furrow is closer to the tractor, so it works much better and also that type of plough is lighter. One of the main advantages of ploughs with fuse safety system is that the first furrow is closer to the tractor, so it works much better and also that type of plough is lighter.

The plough has a memory system that allows, every time you change the headland the closing, turning and opening movements in a robotic way. The opening is done at the distance you have programmed. Normally, you would plough at a distance of 40 cm, which would mean a working width of 2 metres. You can fix it at a maximum of 2.5 meters working width but you need more power and if it is much closed you can have problems with disposal if you have a lot of waste, obviously. As it is five-furrow plough, the tractor is in a furrow, but with the mouldboards uses they make a quite big furrow and the tires don't suffer in spite of being wide tires. We think, the ideal today are the off-furrow ploughs to take advantage of, for example, the self-guiding systems but they are more recommended for ploughs of at least six-furrow.

As for the skimmers, they are not necessary because the plough flip a lot. In addition, when working with skimmers, the surface part of the soil is buried first and therefore remains largely buried. That's all very well when you want to remove of waste, grain that has been thrown away by the combine or weeds, but when you throw away manure, for example, it gets very clogged up and sometimes it's not your goal. For this last reason, Fernando has chosen to remove the skimmers.

Another feature to highlight is the depth control wheel. In this case it is a double wheel that is much better than the pendulum wheels. The double wheel doesn't suffer in the turning movements like the single pendulum wheel and it can also be put on the penultimate body and therefore doesn't hinder you to plough near a border or any obstacle you have in the field. If the wheel goes next to the last body, you have to leave distance to the obstacle and the whole plot is not used.

Finally, it is worth mentioning the following characteristics of the disc coulters. As you can see in the photos, it is equipped with two scalloped disc coulters that are fixed in front of the last furrow. This helps the last furrow has a correct working depth and therefore that the whole plough works equally. A clean disc coulter cut guarantees precise turning of the ridge and a clean furrow.

Versión en español.

06 February 2020

Dryland super-intensive olive grove

As we have already mentioned in several articles, we are expanding the olive grove on our farm. The last three years we have dedicated part of our agricultural activity to planting several olive fields with a 7x7 planting frame, as they are non-irrigated field, and Picual variety. Many of the farmers and followers in social networks have encouraged us to bet on the dryland super-intensive olive grove, so we went to ask one of the best companies specialized in this type of high-density crops, the CBH Company (they are from Córdoba).

The main characteristics when it comes to choosing a dryland super-intensive olive grove could be the following:
  • Geographically limited to areas with an average rainfall of more than 400 mm/year.
  • The planting season is in autumn.
  • Planting densities: from 2,000 to 3,500 plants/Ha.
  • The distance between the olive plants should be 1 to 1.5 metres.
  • Distance between rows from 3 to 3.5 meters.
  • Narrow trees (75-80 cm) and not very tall (2.5 meters), with total light capillarity and high productive efficiency.
  • Small trees are easy to handle and the total mechanization of phytosanitary product applications, pruning and harvesting must also be taken into account.
  • High number of rows per hectare.
  • High productive potential (greater number of lines or square meters of productive rows per hectare).
  • Lower water and nutrient requirements (reduced vigorous trees), and lower susceptibility to pests and diseases (increased aeration and solarization).
  • Suitable for both conventional and organic farming.
  • Production around 7,000 kg/ha.
  • The most recommended varieties are Arbequina, Arbosana and Lecciana as they are varieties with lower vigour and high productivity.
  • Maintenance costs are significantly lower than on irrigated farms.

Once the previous points have been evaluated, we have to take into account that this type of plantation comes into production earlier than with the traditional methd  and therefore the return on investment starts earlier (in the third or fourth year we start to have quite considerable production). 

The investment per hectare is around €4,000-€6,000 depending on the number of plants, variety, shape of the fields... this is undoubtedly a significant amount of money to be taken into account, although the initial investment and the cost of maintenance, in principle, are quite good due to the accelerated production that these plantations have and the great potential for productivity that it generates.

Versión en español.