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Tow-Behind Planter-Harvester For High-Value Crops
There's money to be made raising garlic but it's a pain in the back getting it planted and harvested, says Joseph Schuster. Onions, garlic and shallots all provide a good return if you can keep labor costs under control. That's why Schuster built a machine to speed the work along without breaking the bank or his back.
"Nothing out there can touch garlic as a low input, high rate of return crop," says Schuster. "I wanted a 3-way machine that could be used for planting and harvesting root crops and for transplanting 6 to 14-in. potted plants such as tomatoes and peppers."
When the machine is set up for planting root crops, two people sit side-by-side. Four gauge-wheels and adjustable furrow openers control the depth of the furrows. The openers prepare two furrows, and the workers place the bulbs or tubers. Closure plates cover both furrows and level the top of the bed.
For harvest, the openers and closure plates are removed and a plant-lifting plate, undercutter, and conveyor system are attached. As the plants are lifted from the ground, the workers riding in the seats move them on to the conveyor, which drops them into a bin on the rear platform.
For transplanting 6 to 12-in. tall plants, a front and aft seat configuration is used. The first worker pulls the plant from the holding box and sets it in the furrow. The second person stands it up and firms the dirt around it. A third person can sit at the rear and lay drip irrigation tape between the two furrows.
Schuster prefers transplanting larger tomatoes and peppers to ensure better root growth and earlier production. He notes that other commercial transplanters, including water wheels, are set up for the smaller, bare root plants.
Schuster's 3-way machine sells for about $8,500, depending on options. Hydraulics run off a single remote with the use of a splitter valve control on the machine. If two remotes are available, all hydraulics can be operated from the tractor seat. The machine requires 40 hp or less and is designed for simple maintenance.
"All the bearings are sealed except for the gauge-wheels, which do have to be greased," says Schuster. "You also have to oil the chains on the conveyor system once a year. That's about it."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Joseph Schuster, Schuster Farm, Inc., 312 Nickleville Kahle Lake Rd, Emlenton, Penn. 16373 (ph 814 797-2187; email: schufarm@penn.com).

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2005 - Volume #29, Issue #2