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.