Low-cost strategy for potatoes

Potato cultivation is fully mechanizable with an equipment chain characterized by ease of use, functionality and reliability.

Potatoes are much cultivated in Italy, especially in the province of Bologna. And it is precisely there, in Budrio, where Checchi e Magli headquarters are located. Their machines for potato cultivation and harvesting are historically the starting point of the company. The line of potato machines by Checchi e Magli is composed of potato planters, vibroridgers, potato lifters, and is characterized by ease of use, cost-effectiveness together with extreme flexibility of use even in the most difficult conditions due to high-level quality and functionality.

Preparing the ground

Potato machines by Checchi e Magli enter the field immediately after plowing. Traditional harrowing which affects the entire soil surface may be replaced by a type of harrowing which concerns the seeding line simultaneously with the formation of beds where to plant potatoes. For this purpose, VR76 Export vibrocultivator is used, which is suitable for soil preparation, listing, weeding and hoeing row crops (potatoes, corn, tobacco, sugar beets, celeries); it is equipped with specific bonnets: elastic teeth perform soil harrowing, disc ridgers gather earth to form beds which are shaped and perfected by bonnets. The result is the formation of well-structured ridges which allow for rapid sprouting of potatoes which are planted right in the central flat area of the bed, for more complete and rapid development of plants. A further advantage offered by VR76 Export vibrocultivator equipped with bonnets, together with simultaneous harrowing and convex shaping, is the use of low powered tractors already present in the company, resulting in lower depreciation and operating costs. The bonnets are independent and easily hinged and removable from the VR76 Export frame, making it usable for subsequent weeding and earthing-up. In its Roller version, VR76 is equipped with ridge makers consisting of conic rollers on both sides to form compact ridges and prevent collapse in the event of heavy rains, while creating well-structured ditches to ensure rainwater draining. VR76 can also be equipped with disc plotters hinged to the main frame of the vibrocultivator.



For sowing potatoes, Checchi e Magli offers the range of F300L planters, versatile machines with rear three-point attack of the tractor and whose supporting frame is equipped with two wheels with tires and one or more hoppers (or seed trays). Distribution devices are hinged on the supporting frame; they consist of rotating plates with alveoli, disc coulters and devices to cover rhizomes and tubers, which are also formed by disks (or adjustable moldboards, optional). It requires the aid of operators (equal in number to the number of sowing rows and arranged on separate seats) which bring the tubers from the hopper (or from the seed tray) to the distribution plate with 12 side alveoli. The latter, by effect of its rotation, given by a chain transmission connected to a dedicated toothed metal wheel, when the alveolus coincides with the addition point of inlet pipe, drops the tuber towards the plowed prepared by the ridger. F300L series is available in version 1 to 6 lines with standard sowing step from 14 to 28 cm and spacing width varying from 55 to 75 cm. It can be equipped with a hopper and fertilizer distributors to fertilize along the sowing row, micro-granulators for localized distribution of insecticides and kits with seed spacing of 32-35-38 cm or 8-10 cm. It requires tractor matching with engine power 20-40 hp (15-30 kW).

Potato weeding and earthing-up

Weeding and earthing-up operations are essential to the success of cultivation, they grub weeds (they can also be complementary to chemical weeding by eliminating weeds escaped to the herbicide), huddle ground to the row of potato plants in order to promote the rooting and formation of tubers. To perform these operations in an optimal way, Checchi e Magli offers VR76 vibrocultivator to back three-point linkage. It is equipped with independent and modular work units with three springs (flexible and vibrant with hoe to till the ground, placed on a frame fixed to a parallelogram hinged to the main frame of the vibrocultivator) with control wheel of the work depth. The ridger units are made up, in the Export version, by disks Ø 510 mm with blade to scrape the ground or, in the Standard version, by blade plowshares. All the elements are independent and easy to move on the frame, allowing working on the different distances between the rows (45-90 cm with blade plowshares; 60-90 cm with disc plowshares) and the desired depth. Moreover, the parallelogram allows high excursion while keeping the horizontality of the work group. VR76 vibrocultivator can be equipped with fertilization spreader and micro-granulator with line distribution and mechanical transmission driven by a dedicated toothed wheel. The work speed is high (10-12 km/h) and ensures great work capacity for the VR76. Further advantages of VR76 vibrocultivator derive from the low running cost (the vibrocultivator does not use power press and movement organs) and from the limited investment required to purchase the machine.


As for the collection of potato tubers, Checchi e Magli has prepared excavators equipped with screener and aligner device. These machines have a supporting frame in metal profiles equipped with three point coupling means to the tractor. The operating parts are formed by a wide horizontal ploughshare to release the potatoes from the ground, and by a screener and aligner device consisting of steel rod sieves, oscillating in the longitudinal or transverse way and performing an effective separation of tubers from the ground while unloading them in line. In particular, the potato harvester SP 100 has been realized to dig potatoes and other tubers in any type of soil, even on steep slopes. The shaped ploughshare and front conveyor discs allow operating also in crops with very developed leaf apparatus and also in the presence of weeds. It is equipped with two sieves which oscillate alternately, separating the tubers from the ground and depositing them on the ground, cleaned and on a single row. The movement of the sieves is impressed by the power of the tractor via a transmission shaft. Even the SP 50V potato harvester is provided with conveyor discs and is equipped with a vibrant plowshare which penetrates easily into the ground and conveys tubers on the sieve which separates them from the ground. The reduced size of SP 50V makes it suitable for coupling with tractors and digging potatoes in small plots; it is best suitable in sandy soils. Both machines require the coupling brought with low powered tractors (20-25 hp, 15-18 kW) thus helping contain cultivation costs.

By Antonio Galli

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