2012 - Volume #BFS, Issue #12, Page #03[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story ]
Old Sprayer Helps Roll Out Bird NettingIt used to take 2 to 3 weeks to place netting over five acres of blueberry bushes. Since Bill Bartlett modified a high-rise 1960’s sprayer, a few workers get the job done in 4 to 5 hours.
The Newport, N.H., U-pick farm owner says he had to find something to protect his blueberries from the birds after a bird control product was taken off the market. He wasn’t happy with the available options: a netting that stretched up to 50 ft. and required structures to hold it up, or 5,000-ft. rolls of 17-ft. wide netting that caught on the bushes as it was unrolled from a front-end loader.
The sprayer provided a better way to get the job done.
“It was a tricycle rig designed to go over sweet corn with drop nozzles,” Bartlett explains. “I took the tank and booms off and built a rack to hold the roll of netting.”
The sprayer straddles the bushes with the netting roll raised 10 ft. high, and he backs up the unit. The netting unrolls over polyethylene wires strung every 16 ft. It starts at the end with posts 8 ft. apart that are 4 ft. in the ground.
“Make the posts solid,” Bartlett says. “The foundation is the most important thing.”
With rows 8 ft. apart there is 6 in. on both sides to overlap the netting. Six helpers follow Bartlett and the sprayer to secure the netting overlap to attach the netting to the wires with short pointed dowels. Netting is also unrolled along the sides of the rows.
Bartlett puts the netting on when the blueberries first start to ripen around the Fourth of July, and the process is reversed to roll up the netting at the end of the harvest.
The sprayer has made netting his crop much easier, Bartlett says, and it’s high enough to work under. It could be easily adapted for other high-value crops.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bill Bartlett, 648 Bradford Rd., Newport, N.H. 03773 (ph 603 863-2583; www.bartlettsblueberryfarm.com).
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