It all began fairly crude, backing over rows of blueberries with our big Raptor 800. It was a bit of an overkill, kinda, but it did a pretty decent job and won over some hearts and minds. You see up until that point everyone had to pull them out and either try to burn them or shove them somewhere and hope UFOs took them away.
So now the blueberries are pulled out of the ground, great… It turns out they have quite a root ball on them. That rootball is made up of a bunch of very fine roots that are really good at holding onto dirt, so now you are shaking each one trying to get the dirt out, even then they aren’t very clean, especially if it is clay soil. Now in that process about half the branches get busted off and maybe a quarter of the root ball is still in the ground. Now gather them all up into a good pile and light them off, make sure you let them dry a bit first. Now you have a pile of unburnt crowns left because all that dirt didn’t shake out as well as you thought. Now you hope they disappear, but they don’t.
The other option is running them through a horizontal grinder, but that still requires pulling, hauling, feeding, then doing something with the grindings.
This is what many have gone through, we had no idea it was such a big deal having never done conventional removal before.
To solve this we apply our reintegration process to put them back in the ground. It is not one size fit’s all, it is variable. Some are over 60 years old and ginormous. Some are up on a mound with all their roots above the average ground surface. Some were planted flat and all the roots are below average ground surface. Some are only a few years old with fine pliable stems.
Do we need a client to do anything to help us out before we get on-site? Yes, just make sure all the non-organic infrastructure is out of the way and anything you want to save is marked well and very visible. It is not a big deal for us if you have risers at the ends of the row for drip tubes, we either just need them marked really well, pinned down, or what works best is if they are buried. Burying can be done pretty fast which makes it a really clean process. If they aren’t buried we may hit a few, but not many.
Can a client help out by mowing off the plant before we get there? No, please don’t. This really doesn’t save any work and often results in a worse product as we don’t have control over the plant from the standing phase. It won’t save any money. We have had several clients do this before contacting us and then lament after they saw the process working. We can still deliver a good product if it has been done, but you’re working your equipment for nothing.
There should be no problem completing standard conventional farming practices once we are done. Heck, some people don’t even work the field, they just re-mound behind us without even destroying the grass aisle way. A client can finish picking blueberries on day 1, remove infrastructure on day 2, have blueberries reintegrated on day 3, and replace infrastructure and plant on day 4. That would take some heroic scheduling but it is in theory possible with this process.
How is this all done? Well like I said above, it is all about using the right equipment for the right scenario. And beyond that, we have modified the tar out of the different machines. We haven’t found anything yet that delivers the right product as it is off the showroom floor. But that’s kinda what we love doing anyway. We won’t ever get it perfect, but we love chasing after perfection.
The bottom line is: we love removing blueberries.