With low profit margins, day-to-day prices and an extremely competitive market, vegetable farmers cannot afford to make mistakes. They have to farm smart!
Fortunately, they also no longer have to suck at the back teat when it comes to production aids such as equipment for soil preparation, planting, hoeing and crop protection.
At the National Vegetable Farming Day recently hosted by Joined Specialized Farming (JSF), the Rebelo Agricultural Group and Zuiderwindt Mechanization at Bapsfontein just outside Pretoria, some of the best imported and locally manufactured machinery was demonstrated.
The great combination of the day was this mulcher from the well-known Shrub series that is used to finely chop and juice green manure, in this case, leaf ramenas. The flat valves are specially designed to not only finely chop but also to squeeze the sap from the plants, as it accelerates the release of the gases from the leaves when it is incorporated into the soil.
The Farmax soil preparer that follows is known in colloquial language as a slow spitter, says Francois Bezuidenhout of JSF. The machine works at its best at 2 km / h to loosen the soil to a depth of 40 cm, work in the freshly cut green manure and then use the roller with vibrating arms to ensure that all clods are broken and the bed is left level. .
The tractor that makes the machines work is a Massey Ferguson 7624. It is part of the 7600 series that was recently introduced with plus points for vegetable farmers such as automatic smooth gear shifting without having to step on the clutch, a quiet crawling speed and small turning circles.
A tractor that is also well welcomed in vegetable ranks is the new Valtra A95 of 74 kW with a four-cylinder AGCO engine and 12 X 12 gearbox distributed by Valtrac in SA. One of the great advantages is the integrated fuel tank which ensures a clean, smooth high-speed chassis that will not hurt plants or beds. The model is available with or without a cabin and operators will also appreciate the flat, open floor space.
Also from the Valtrac stable is the Montana sprayer that hooks at the three-point linkage and is an indispensable weapon against pests for a vegetable farmer. Just note that Montana has just been bought out by Kuhn and that the distinctive blue will henceforth be Kuhn red.
Time is precious and it is wise to do two operations at once, with one implement in front and one behind the tractor. Not all tractors are factory ready for this, but Dirk de Koster of Inttrac Trading says they have a plan. Inttrac are the distributors of Sauter’s useful pre-coupling system consisting of a three-point lift and a power take-off. The Sauter adapts to most types of tractors and will save you a lot of fuel and time in the long run.
A variety of seedbed makers were demonstrated and the farmers studied each one’s trail in depth to make sure it was just right for planting.
The freshly cultivated wet soil made things a bit difficult, but in a drier strip, the Forigo from the Rebelo group proved itself well with a well-ventilated and soft but firm seedbed. The Forigo is also known as the stone buryer, which is obviously useful for farmers with rocky soil.
For mechanical hoeing between the plants, Zuiderwindt Mechanisation’s local patent attracted particular attention. ProAgri has also made a video about the hoe; click here to view it.
Vegetable planting no longer has to be a time-consuming backbreaking work as in the past, but Jose Rebelo pointed out that farmers need to make sure they get the right planter for their crops and soil. For example, there are planters who are better at planting cabbage than lettuce and a farmer has to decide where his biggest income lies or he should get two planters.
Without water, vegetables do not get far and Mariska Sonnekus from HMMI was able to show the farmers what benefits their adaptable, easily movable BAUER crawler sprayers offer the vegetable farmer. The self-propelled sprayers do not require power supply in the country and there is a whole range of different sizes available. The sprayer is fully countersunk for a nice long life and the water supply can be fine-tuned for precise application as needed. The larger models have a computer for accurate, simple adjustments.
Monosem’s precision planters are well known in the grain industry, but they also care for vegetable farmers. Talk to Jacques van der Westhuizen of Monotec, who distributes the planters.
Precision farming is not just limited to grain farmers. Charlaine Kok from Ronin will be able to tell you exactly how you can save fuel and time and also make the best use of your land with precision practices for vegetable farming.
Victor Sabio from Golden Spring says he can help you build a trailer from beginning to end to your needs.
The Rebelo group truly provides a one-stop service to vegetable farmers; from soil preparation to the store shelf in a neat bag.