Ontario vegetable growers report that by using the Belgian-made Agriplanter they can do the same amount of work with up to 75 percent labor than they would normally need. Workers are only required to set trays of plugs in place. The machine does the rest.
"It's 3 times faster than plug transplanters, and the electronic eye detects any misses," says Roel Jennen. "Each robotic row unit can plant 275 plugs per minute. Anything with a plug can be planted. A 6-row Agriplanter can plant 50 acres a day, while existing planters would be pushing 20 acres on a good day. A 2-row machine can plant 10 to 15 acres a day without pushing it."
Jennen became the Canadian distributor after several area vegetable growers imported Agriplanters. Short-term labor is increasingly difficult to find, notes Jennen, and the robotic planter significantly reduces that concern.
"I have a cousin who raises 200 acres of onions and 150 acres of tomatoes," says Jennen. "He used to have crews of up to 35 people working 14-hrs. days for 20 days to plant onions."
"With his 4-row Agriplanter he needs only 4 to 5 people, and the machine doesn't get tired," he adds. "He can plant 18 hrs. a day."
The machines are available in multiple configurations, from a single row unit to a 6-row model with spaces of 19 in. between rows.
Eric Puehler, Puehler AgCo, is the U.S. distributor. "We have sold them to tomato growers in California, cabbage growers in New York, tomato and pepper growers in the Midwest and cabbage growers in the southeastern U.S."
The Agriplanter collects plugs from a trays and places them on a conveyor belt that moves the to the actual planting unit. Rubber discs rotate plugs in the right direction to be planted at the correct depth.
Mechanical planting discs with adjustable down pressure open the row to receive the plug. Pressure wheels press the soil around the plug. A Raven controller delivers water and fertilizer to the plugs.
Jennen admits the Agriplanter is not for everyone. "It best fits growers with 100 acres or more and in particular those who don't have large crews for the entire growing season," he says. "While it is quite an investment for a grower with 50 acres, if they are planning to increase acreage, I think it would pay."
Both Jennen and Puehler requested interested readers contact them for more information and pricing.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Roel Jennen, 10256 Baseline Rd., Dresden, Ont. Canada N0P1M0 (ph 226 627-8234; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.agriplanter.com) or Puehler AgCo Inc., 12708 St. Rt. 109, Delta, Ohio 43515 (ph 419 388-6614; email@example.com; www.pagco.us).