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NP Seymour Open Day 2022

You are invited to our dealership open day.

Come and meet the team, catch up with fellow growers and see a complete range of specialist fruit and vine machinery.

DATE: THURSDAY 24 MARCH

TIME: 1PM – 5PM

NP Seymour, Avon Works, Marden Road, Cranbrook, TN17 2PT

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RSVP: NP Seymour Open Day 24 March 2022

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Mechanical weeding just as effective as herbicide

The results of an integrated weed management trial have demonstrated that mechanical weeding is just as effective as herbicide when it comes to vine health and increasing yield.

In a talk hosted at NIAB EMR on Friday 24 November, Flora O’Brien, from NIAB EMR, and Paul Tuteirihia, from Clemens, the manufacturer of the mechanical weeders used in the trial, presented the three-year IWMPRAISE project findings to the fruit and vine growers in attendance.

Part of a Horizon 2020 project to support and promote the implementation of IWM in Europe, the IMWPRAISE project trial was carried out on Chardonnay at the Kent-based facility’s research vineyard.

Data showed that compared to the control row, which received no weed treatment, both mechanical weeding methods (the Clemens Radius SL+ and the finger disk with finger roller) and the herbicide application positively impacted the health of the vine and yield.

In 2020, all weed treatments resulted in a yield 214 – 247% higher than the control, and in 2021 this was increased to 261 – 292% higher.

The study also showed that the difference between the mechanical and chemical treatments was marginal, thus dispelling growers’ concerns that moving away from herbicide would reduce yield.

As expected, data showed a significant difference in vine vigour, and nutrition between the treated and untreated vines, this proving the adverse impact that weed competition has on vine growth.

Interestingly, the trial also found that the blade treatment, the Clemens Radius SL+, was the most effective n reducing biomass and impacted the greatest number of different weed families.

Following the presentation, attendees were invited to the research vineyard and orchard to see a demonstration of some of the Clemens machinery, which is imported and distributed in the UK by the specialist dealership, NP Seymour.

The first machine to be operated was the Clemens Multiclean. Attached to an over-the-row frame, the mulching brushes effectively help growers take the weeds back to ground level without interfering with the soil structure while also removing unwanted shoots and significantly reducing the cost of bud rubbing.

Next was the Clemens Radius SL+ which had been used in the trial. Attached to the SB Compact Frame, the Radius SL’s cultivator blades effectively undercut the topsoil and cut the root structure of the weeds, while the optional rotary tiller incorporates the topsoil.

Moving to the research plum orchard, fruit growers could then see the Clemens orchard frame with Radius SL attachment. This works in the same way but allows for inter-row widths of up to 3.2 metres.

“Mechanical weed control is still one of the things we get asked the most about, and it was great to see that the trial data has proven it to be just as effective as herbicide,” said Claire Seymour, sales and marketing director at NP Seymour.

“Under vine cultivators are not a one-size-fits-all product. Modern systems can be incredibly sophisticated, so before choosing a make or model, growers need to think about what they are trying to achieve.

The system on offer from Clemens is robust and comprehensive and has been built to suit growers who need to do everything in just one pass. It is designed to deal well with hardy weed, and vineyard managers often comment that the Clemens will do a more thorough job, with the effects lasting noticeably longer.”

For more information on the Clemens range of under vine cultivation equipment, please contact NP Seymour on 01580 712200.

Technology makes a step change in productivity and competitiveness.

This year, we will be showcasing two key pieces of machinery on our stand at the National Fruit Show (being held on 20 and 21 October at Kent County Showground) which promise to make a “step change in productivity and competitiveness”.

Having supplied the UK’s first REDpulse Duo orchard defoliator to Boxford (Suffolk) Farms in August 2020, we have since delivered another machine to Adrian Scripps in Kent and have also invested in our own demo unit which has been trialled with impressive results so far this season.

Developed by Fruit-tec, who many of you will know as the makers of the Darwin mechanical blossom thinner, in partnership with ERO, who produce a range of vineyard trimmers and defoliators, the pneumatic REDpulse Duo emits a high frequency pulsating air stream to remove leaves covering apples.

“Having reviewed the trial data from Boxford (Suffolk) Farms and seen the defoliator in action, we believe the REDpulse to be one of the best ways UK growers can aerate fruit, allowing for more sunlight to penetrate through the canopy to the fruit, which in turn increases colouration and makes picking easier,” said Claire Seymour, director at NP Seymour.

Those visiting our stand at the show will also be able to see the new PODS precision sprayer system, which has come from a three year Innovate UK research project aiming to improve economic performance of orchards.

“While current practice is to spray whole orchards at the same dose regardless of tree structure or crop load, the variable rate sprayer we have helped to developed in partnership with Hutchinsons, the Acclaimed Software Company, Outfield Technologies, Plumford Farms, Worldwide Fruit and NIAB, will apply an exact dose tree-by-tree,” said Claire. “It is this targeted approach which will allow growers to significantly reduce chemical costs while also increasing production and quality.”

For more information, visit the NP Seymour stand K32 at the National Fruit Show on 20 and 21 October 2021.

Can orchard defoliators increase the number of apples in the first pick and does allowing more sunlight really improve colouration?

Last August we were excited to deliver the UK’s first REDpulse Duo orchard defoliator to Boxford (Suffolk) Farms.

Developed by Fruit-tec, who many of you will know as the makers of the Darwin mechanical blossom thinner, in partnership with ERO, who produce a range of vineyard trimmers and defoliators, the pneumatic REDpulse Duo emits a high frequency pulsating air stream to remove leaves from the middle to lower half of the tree. This in turn helps to aerate fruit and allows for more sunlight to penetrate through the canopy to the fruit, increasing colouration and making picking easier.

Shortly after we’d delivered the REDpulse Duo to Boxford (Suffolk) Farms, farm manager Peter Kemp spoke to us about why he chose the machine and explained that the farm would be conducting several trials on the 110-hectare top fruit farm, having left an empty row in each orchard so they could compare fruit colour side-by-side. You can click here to read the article from last year.

A few weeks ago, we caught up with Peter to run through the results of these trials and find out how the REDpulse Duo had performed.

“We initially used the REDpulse on most of our Gala and just trialled it on some other varieties, like Braeburn, Cox and Daliclass,” said Peter. “It’s incredibly important to get the timing right, and from an operator’s point of view, you do have to drive relatively close to the trees, so you do have to be really alert and awake when you’re using it. Apart from that there have been no problems at all, and it’s not complicated to use.”

An initial assessment was conducted on the apples in Transplant South, looking at the difference between the treated and untreated rows 10 days after the REDpulse Duo had been used. The results of this showed that 20 apples on the treated rows averaged 45% colour, compared to 20 apples on the untreated row which averaged 32% colour – overall an increase of 13% colour.

A second assessment was conducted over 25 random trees in Transplant South a month after the REDpulse Duo had been used, after the first pick of Gala. These results showed that there were significantly more apples left on the untreated trees, with an overall average of 6 apples per tree being picked in the first pick on the treated trees. There was also significantly more colour on the remaining apples on the treated trees than the untreated, with the overall average colour being 8% higher on the treated trees.

Timings:

Treatment with the REDpulse Duo: 28/08/20

Initial Assessment: 7/09/20

Second Assessment: 28/09/20

From a figures point of view, based on the results which indicated that an average of six extra apples were picked per tree in the first pick, with 12,647 trees in Transplant South, that equates to 75,882 more apples picked.

Using the grading data from last year, the average weight of the Gala apples was 0.164kg, which is 12,445kg in total. Using the approx. price of 65p per kg, this added up to £8,089.25 extra for the first pick.

“Not only did it make the first pick better, but there was also a noticeable improvement in colouration on the second pick as well,” said Peter. “We were not expecting it to make quite as much difference as it did, but I was very surprised and happy to see the results. This year we are hoping to improve on these results and will be doing some more trials with it, particularly as we are now more confident using the machine.”

Like last year, the team will be looking to start using it around 6 weeks before the start of harvest and will focus the machine on the middle of the 3-metre trees, to remove the leaves from the fruit zone and expose the apples to the sun.

If you want more information, please do give the sales team a call on 01580 712200.

How to protect your tractors and machinery from theft.

Did you know that CESAR marking of agricultural machinery has contributed to a 60% decline in thefts since the scheme was launched in 2007?

That’s 60% fewer farmers put to the inconvenience of coping without the equipment they need, often at busy times of the year like harvest, never mind the cost and time of replacing the lost machine.

We’re now registered as a certified CESAR dealership and can provide and fit the state-of-the-art Datatag ID technology to new and existing tractors, as well as all types of self-propelled and trailer-mounted equipment.

The sophisticated multi-layered security system basically gives each machine its own unique ‘fingerprint’, which is impossible for thieves to remove. The Datatag security is made up of various elements, both visible to act as a deterrent and covert to aid identification and recovery.

Firstly, there’s a number of tamper-proof registration plates that are securely fitted to the machine’s chassis. A number of Datatag RFID transponders, each the size of a grain of rice, are hidden in the machinery, each with its own unique programmed code. The machine also has patches of chemical forensic liquid Datatag DNA painted on it, which has microscopic Datatag Datadots® suspended in it that are barely visible to the eye.

It’s literally impossible for thieves to remove all the tell tail identification traces from a CESAR registered machine.

Many of you will recognise the triangular CESAR registration plate which now acts as a significant deterrent against theft. Thieves don’t like risking themselves unnecessarily and would rather steal an unmarked tractor than one protected by the police-approved CESAR scheme.

Its almost unbeatable layers of security marking technologies also make it an invaluable aid to recovery, with CESAR marked machines more than twice as likely to be recovered as unmarked equipment. Hence why all major insurance companies offer discounts of up to 20% on premiums and reduced excesses for cover on CESAR-marked machines.

There is a secure and dedicated 24/7 UK secure contact centre and strong links with the Police, to ensure that details of stolen machinery can be circulated quickly, improving the chances of recovery.

One of the best things about the scheme is that there are no annual fees, just a one-off fee for the marking and registering your equipment for life. The cost of having CESAR registration fitted is easily recouped within a couple of years by reducing insurance premiums and excesses, yet the benefits remain for the life of your ownership of that machine.

If you want to chat through in more detail or want to book in to have your tractor fitted with CESAR technology, please do give me a call on 01580 712200.

Tom Wheatley, sales at NP Seymour

Regenerative agriculture is on a roll!

As we move in search of ever more sustainable orchard and vineyard management practices, it seems that an increasing number are taking up practices that fall into a new category called regen ag.

Initially ‘discovered’ in the 1980s, it seems regenerative agriculture has been recently rediscovered. Similar in many respects to organic and biodynamic practices, regenerative growing takes a wider view of the ecosystem in the orchard or vineyard and seeks to make it species-rich and self-sustaining.

It is about looking at soil health and ways to improve microbial life, which in turn increases organic matter and can help lock in carbon.

The key focus in regenerative growing is cover-cropping, which can be used to fix an array of issues such as nitrogen deficiencies without the use of chemicals. They are also used to improve soil structures, join up wildlife corridors, and create safe zones for insects.

It’s common to roll these cover crops once the growing season is underway so they can act as mulches, preserving soil water and also releasing nutrients as they break down.

The “ECO-Roll” BIO mulch roller is therefore a must-have piece of kit for anyone looking to implement regenerative and sustainable vineyard and orchard management.

Perfect for wildflower and cover crop crimping, the Clemens “ECO-Roll” compresses the vegetation as the spades fitted to the roller bend and knock down the stalks, thereby producing a carpet of mulch that suppresses weeds and encourages good shaded composting.

Designed to ensure a good crimp and less bounce-back of material, it conserves the moisture in the soil and the plants then grow through and produce the next carpet of organic material.

With legumes, this method stimulates the growth of the rhizobia and increases nitrogen fixing.

It is available in a front or rear mounted option, although should ideally be front mounted so you can push the plant material over before driving over it.

For more information, please call the sales team on 01580 712200 or email sales@npseymour.co.uk

What to do with your winter prunings?

When it comes to clearing the orchard or vineyard rows of prunings, there is little doubt that pulverising, or flail mowing in-situ, is the easiest, most environmentally friendly, and sustainable approach.

Burning the debris may look photogenic and can provide a bit of natural warmth for the pruning team, but it pollutes the air, upsets neighbours, and often has no impact on the risk of disease, except perhaps bad cases of trunk disease.

Going to the trouble of removing the canes from the row is also time-consuming, unnecessary use of the labour force and deprives orchard and vineyard managers of the opportunity to improve the health of the soil.

With the right machinery, mulching or shredding prunings can be quick, effective and is a great way to add humus to the soil.

Relatively new to the UK market, the Variochop shredder from Perfect van Wamel can be front- or rear-mounted and gives growers the additional option to adjust the PTO speed.

By changing the position of the V-belt pulleys, operators can select between 540, 750 or 1000 rpm depending on the positioning of the pulveriser and capabilities of the tractor.

“In particular, the 750 rpm option will allow operators with larger tractors to drive the machine with a reduced engine speed to limit fuel consumption and improved efficiency,” said Claire Seymour, sales and marketing director at NP Seymour, the specialist machinery dealership that supplies British growers with a range of Perfect van Wamel mowers and pulverisers.

With working widths of 135, 150, 180 and 210 cm, the Variochop is suited to work in a range of orchard and vineyard setups. The heavy construction, typical for Perfect products, and the standard 2.2kg flails also allow for shredding of prunings up to 8cm in diameter.

Growers who want to make year-round use of the machine can even choose to fit Perfect’s Combi flails, which not only provides very good shredding of wood but also gives a very nice and even cut in grass.

The Variochop range is a follow-up to the existing BGM and BKM series. Capable of cutting prunings up to 10cm diameter, the BG2 pulverisers have found favour with growers for being heavy-duty and compact, with a low profile of just 51cm.

“To maximise the cutting width, the flail rotor bearings are mounted inside the frame and there is a full-width rear roller which provides excellent stability and easy handling,” said Claire.

“Many find it easy to work around overhanging branches or laterals which simply slide over the contoured frame. There is also the Perfect BK2, which is the same as the BG2 but comes with additional rear rake tines which lift smaller, thinner prunings and improve mulching.”

To effectively clear rows from leaves, remaining fruit, prunings and any other debris in just one pass growers can also opt to add a brush sweep to their pulverisers.

The Perfect double-sided front-mounted brush sweep is designed to work in conjunction with a rear-mounted pulveriser in orchards and vineyards with row widths from 2.80m to 4.10m.

The brushes are made of highly resistant synthetic material and spin at approximately 140 to 160 rpm. Each head has a support wheel for optimal terrain adjustment and hydraulic rams are fitted to adjust the working width and lift the sweeper into transport position.

There is also a single-sided brush sweep which can be front-mounted or can be mounted onto a rear-mounted pulveriser.

For more information call the NP Seymour sales team on 01580 712200.

Preparing for pruning season

With the winter pruning season just around the corner, we thought it was time to revisit some of the updates Felco made to its range earlier this year.

As the UK’s official sales and service centre for the electronic and pneumatic secateurs manufacture, we’ve been providing fruit growers and viticulturists with Felco’s wide range of secateurs, holsters, saws and diamond coated sharpeners for nearly a decade.

“Felco are renowned for its secateurs; they’re a premium brand and widely used across by UK viticulturists already,” said Claire Seymour.

While Felco only released its new generation of professional electric pruning shears, the Power Blade series last year, the Swiss manufacture has spent the last few months upgrading the range even further.

So, what’s new?

Well, for a start, the blades are better. Made from special high-speed steel, the XPro blades, which now feature on the Power Blade pruning shears, have been put through an additional hardening process to provide consistent pruning, cleaner cuts, and a longer blade life compared to conventional steel. The blade, which also requires less sharpening, has been tested against competitors and came out by far the strongest option on the market.

Favoured by everyone from vineyard owners, to self-employed pruners, contractors and vineyard staff, the Felco Power Blade XPro range is made up of four different models of electric pruning secateurs including:

  • the 802 capable of cutting up to 30mm;
  • the 812 for pruning up to 35mm;
  • and the heavy-duty 822 designed for making large, powerful cuts of up to 45mm.

Bluetooth connectivity

Those out in the vineyard will be able to take advantage of the new carrying system too, as all models come with a Power Pack 882. Bringing pruning into the 21st century, the Power Blades have also been fitted with Bluetooth connectivity enabling the shears to talk to the operator’s smartphone or tablet. After installing the new Felco app, operators can adjust the semi-opening and activate holster mode. There is also a ‘dashboard’ that shows tool performance data such as the number of cuts, battery life, time of usage and cut size statistics.

“It even tells you when your next service is required, the working condition of your tool, and whether it’s still in warranty,” said Claire. “As the area of vines in the country continues to increase at a rapid pace, the Felco electronic secateurs are proving to be increasingly popular. With more pruning to be done, many pruners have already discovered the benefits of switching over to electronic secateurs and these new models further help pruners to speed up the job and cover more vines in a day.”

English wine producers agree that mechanical grape harvesters are a no brainer for still wine varieties

We were delighted to welcome over 20 leading vineyard managers and winemakers from across the South East to a special machinery demonstration day we held with vineyard contractors SJ Barnes at a vineyard on the Kent / East Sussex border on Friday 8 October.

From 10am till 2pm, still and sparkling English wine producers were able to see one of SJ Barnes’ Pellenc Grapes Line 80 mechanical grape harvesters in action as it navigated the rows of Bacchus.

“One of the best things about the Pellenc Grapes Line is its suitability for our vineyards here in the UK,” said Sam Barnes, founder of SJ Barnes and specialist vineyard sales advisor at NP Seymour. “Because it is a trailed machine, equipped with a hydraulic tow bar for better manoeuvrability, it can cope with the tight headlands we normally see in vineyards which have been planted with hand harvesting in mind.”

Those attending the demonstration were also invited to stand on the top platform to see how the Pellenc’s sorting table carefully removes unwanted matter (MOG) and diseased fruit on the go, before then being able to inspect what the harvester had loaded into the dolavs.

“The Pellenc is far more selective compared to any of the other mechanical harvesters I have used,” said Sam, who travelled to New Zealand to research the different makes and models back in 2019.

“The sorting table really is very effective at ensuring only the best sample of fruit ends up in the bins as, unlike other machine harvesters, you are not just relying on a de-stemmer and some fans to remove leaves and debris. It also has a much gentler cleaning method, which will be important for those looking to use mechanically harvested fruit for sparkling wine production.”

Over the demonstration day, the consensus among vineyard managers and winemakers was that mechanical harvesting was going to be a necessity for the future, particularly if the labour shortages continue.

“For still wine varieties, mechanical harvesting seems to be a no brainer,” said Claire Seymour, sales and marketing director at NP Seymour, the UK’s importer and distributor for Pellenc mechanical harvesters. “I spoke to at least one winemaker who is looking at mechanically harvesting all their Bacchus and is planning to adapt their winery receiving line so that they can use lorries instead of bins.”

Demand is certainly increasing for machine harvesting solutions in the UK. With almost 200Ha booked in for the 2021 season, this year SJ Barnes had to invest in a second Grapes Line 80 to ensure that the contracting company could fulfil growers’ needs.

“Anyone with over 60Ha would find it justifiable to invest in their own Pellenc,” said Sam. “But it is not just about buying the equipment; you need to ensure that you have a skilled operator to drive it and the infrastructure in place to cope with the logistics.”

If you would like to see the machine in action, we are still offering demonstration opportunities and those attending the Vineyard and Winery Show will also be able to see one of the Grapes Line machines on NP Seymour and SJ Barnes’ joint stand.

Precision Fruit Tree Dosing to Optimise Yield and Quality

We were extremely proud and excited to be involved in the first wet trials of the PODS precision sprayer system, which took place on Tuesday 18 May at Plumford Farm in Faversham.

As all growers know, there is often significant tree-to-tree variability in orchards, with different tree structures (size, density), crop loads and quality often being linked to less than optimal, often poor, overall yield and quality.

This PODS precision sprayer system is the culmination of a 3 year Innovate UK research project which was set up to develop a precision dosing orchard foliar spraying system to improve the uniformity of orchards and greatly increase their economic performance.

While current practice is to spray whole orchards at the same dose regardless of tree structure or crop load, the equipment we have helped to developed will apply precision doses according to need to optimise performance.

We chose to use the KWH three-row sprayer because of the layout of the tower, which gave a nice base to work on having been carefully designed for modern orchard growing systems.

The variable rate sprayer, which was applying Brevis fruitlet thinner in the trial run, applies an exact dose tree-by-tree. It is able to apply different rates at different heights of the tree too and it is this attention to detail and targeted approach which will allow growers to significantly reduce chemical costs while also increasing production and quality.

Trials are currently focused on apples, but once ready, growers will be able to use the technology to apply crop protection and crop management sprays on a wide range of fruit trees.

It is hoped that this new technology will have a lasting impact on the UK apple industry, making a step change in productivity and competitiveness.

This is the first of two demonstrations being carried out this season and we are looking forward to continuing to work with Hutchinsons, the Acclaimed Software Company, Outfield Technologies, Plumford Farms, Worldwide Fruit and NIAB on this exciting project.