Mechanization Of Farming Under Plastic Tunnels

Editor's note: This information is extracted from a letter written to the editor by Dr. Y. Atper, who is with the Institute of Agricultural Engineering in Bet Dagun, Israel.

The method of growing in low, plastic tunnels has become very popular in the Israeli agriculture over the last few years. Its main advantage is an early crop of fresh vegetables on the market. Our Institute started working on the mechanization of this method a few years ago.

The synchronized plastic mulching and planting machine was the first machine developed for this purpose. This unit, which seeds, mulches, and perforates the plastic above the seeds in one operation, is manufactured by a local company and is us^d commercially by farmers.

Low plastic tunnel cultivation is a popular technique for early crop ripening. Early ripening is achieved by this method not only by early planting, but also through the better microclimate conditions and the physical protection of the plants during their first stages of growth. The increasing use of this growing technique created a need for mechanical means to erect the tunnels.

The T-2IOO, which is fed by straight steel wires, forms the arches and places them into the ground in a continuous operation. The spacing between arches and their height are adjustable. The machine is pulled by a small-size tractor and ground-driven by its own wheels.

An automatic machine for farming and inserting wire arches into the ground was developed and field-tested during the 1976 season. Field-test results were very successful and some units were planned to be operated commercially in 1978.

A wire renewer which straightens used wires for reuse with an automatic inserting device was also built.

The development of these machines is a considerable contribution to the mechanization of growing in low, plastic tunnels in Israel; each of these machines can also be operated separately, according to local conditions.

The Kennco Plastic Machine

This plastic machine covers a formed bed with a 1.5-mil plastic. The machine simultaneously tucks and buries the plastic at the sides just under the outside corner of the bed to insure permanence throughout the crop. Plastic machines can be equipped with gas knives or nozzles to inject gas or liquid herbicides just prior to laying plastic on the bed.

Plastic-laying machines come complete with three-point hitch, seat, hitler blades, and aluminum end plugs. A larger, high-speed machine is also available.

Kennco Mfg. Co. P.O. Box 1158 Ruskin, FL 33570

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