25 February 2021

Sowing opium poppy days

Opium poppy is a quite common crop in Spain and more specifically in the Albacete area, located in La Mancha land. Spain is the world's second largest opium poppy producer after Australia. It is a crop controlled in Spain by a single company, Alcaliber, since 1973. Alcaliber is the only company that contracts the production of opium poppy to farmers by renting their fields, supplies the seeds, their technicians together with the farmers follow the entire production process with regular checks. It is also their task, once the plant is dry, to harvest it with special harvester combines and processes included in the procurement of individual medicinal products.

The opium poppy cultivated in Spain, variety Nigum, is used for the production of morphine, codeine and thebaine. This whole process is surrounded by the strictest security measures (by Police agents).

Opium poppy is an ideal crop for the extensive irrigated fields in the province of Albacete and it is also a crop that has very good yields so it can reach about 3,000kg/ha (the price is around 0.8€/kg.). Moreover, the amount of needed water is not excessive (similar to cereals) and it is a fully mechanised crop.

If we focus on the sowing tasks that our friend Juan was carrying out, as you can see in our pictures and video, it is very important to have a well-prepared seedbed. This soil needs to be lightly tilled and even to be a little hard (it is worked with a cultivator, although the ideal situation is to use the power harrow very superficially and then roller it before sowing). The seed is left very shallow as the first watering will be responsible for covering it. As you can see, the seed drill has no rear harrow and it is disc seeder for maximum precision in placing the seed in the soil.

In one working day, many hectares can be sown as Juan's equipment consists of two twin Amazone D9-3000 Super seed drills with a working width of 6 metres. The seeding rate used is about 2 kg/he so he does not need to stop to fill the hopper during the day and the working speed is around 6.5 km/h. After sowing, a pre-emergence treatment is carried out in order to prevent the emergence of weeds and a small irrigation to fix the seed... but this will be another topic to be dealt with in another future post.

Versión en español.

15 February 2021

Kubota goes one step further

Sowing days are over with the lentils sowing works. This year, with weather conditions as difficult as those of the last few months for working in the fields, sowing pulse vegetables works are taking longer, as they should have finished in January.

Ideally, before sowing the pulse vegetables, the fields should be harrowed with the cultivator to remove any weeds that have emerged in the last few weeks. This task is carried out in order to purge the soil in depth, thus avoiding possible broadleaf weed that cannot be removed with phytosanitary treatments in the coming months. On this occasion, we were lucky enough to be able to work with the Kubota M6-142 (new M6002 Series presented at FIMA 2020) and our Ovlac Minichisel cultivator. As a result of these working days, we introduce you the tractor and give you our impressions.

  • Kubota V6108 engine with 6,124 cc and 4 cylinders (Stage V).  
  • Maximum power: 143 HP  at 1,900 r.p.m. (163 HP with PowerBoost system).
  • Maximum torque: 658 Nm at 1,500 r.p.m (over 600 Nm from 1,200 r.p.m. to 1,900 r.p.m.).
  • Fuel tank capacity of 230 litres and 20 litres of adBlue.
  • Powershift Gearbox of 32x32 (4 groups and 8 gears).
  • Maximum speed of 40 km/h at 1,640 r.p.m.
  • Mechanical cab suspension and front axle hydro-pneumatic suspension.
  • Lifting force rear of 7,000 kg (optional front lift of 3,260 kg).
  • PTO speed: 540/540E/1000/1000E.
  • Pump flow rate of 115 l/min (close centre with load sensing).
  • Wheelbase: 2,690 mm.     
  • Net Weight of 6,000kg and effective load of 3,800 kg.
  • Steering radius of 4.35m and turning angle of 55º (with Bi-Speed system). 

We include this tractor in the premium because the standard baseline has a very advanced specifications. Soon after you start working with the tractor, you realise that it works very fine:

  • The steering radius with the Bi-Speed system are really reduced
  • The robotised powershift is very smooth.
  • The hydraulic reverse power shuttle works really fine.
  • The multifunctional arm is very ergonomic and the cabin is very well finished.
  • The "Xpress restart" system (stopping and restarting by simply pressing the brake pedal) works fine and when you are working with a front-loader it is an important advantage as it comes with the pre-installation of a MX front-loader (French manufacturer of great prestige)... multitude of features that make it a great tractor.

One of the problems that Kubota may have with this type of tractors is that it is in a segment where there is a wide variety of brands and models of similar tractors and therefore the competition is great (we do not think that it is an economical tractor). Another disadvantage is that the use of 4-cylinder engines may limit the projection of the tractor by the farmer. We'll see how its sales evolve.