Agriculture, Services

There are 3 options for removing your orchard to make way for the new. There are some positives for each and some cons for each, here we will try to line them out without making it too complicated.

Pile and Burn

This is exactly what it sounds like, throw them in a pile and light them off. Here are some pros and cons:


PROS:

 

  • Most people have the equipment readily available to complete this project, usually just an excavator and or dozer.

  • Can be done in-house with the existing labor force.

  • Can be done at a very low out-of-pocket expense if the equipment is in-house

  • Results in a low amount of biomass re-entering the soil if that is not desired.

CONS:

  • Can be an arduous task to get them to burn up cleanly

  • Requires handling the tree several times

  • A lot of smoke to make the neighbors happy

  • Typically a lot of roots to deal with afterward

  • If not piled cleanly there can be a lot of dirt and debris mixture left behind.

  • Can be a very long drawn-out process.

  • Full all-in costs are generally higher than expected due to hand labor.

  • Subject to approved burn times enforced by DEQ.

  • Very weather dependent if there is a desire to avoid working in the mud.

    Overall a pile and burn operation is great if a person wants a very low initial investment and is willing to work on it over a long duration of time.

Pile and Grind

This process starts much like a Pile and Burn operation. All the trees are ripped from the ground. The trees are then consolidated into a windrow or pile. The consolidation process generally requires an excavator and or dozer to complete efficiently. After the consolidation process is done a horizontal grinder is brought in to chew up the trees into a specified size usually called hog fuel and put into a pile with a conveyor belt. After the grinding is done the particles are spread back out over the ground or hauled off. After this, the ground must generally be ripped and raked to extract the remainder of the roots.

PROS:

  • All material that passes through the grinder is very specifically sized

  • The most efficient method is if it is desired for material to be completely removed from the site.


CONS:

  • Generally requires handling and transporting the trees several times to consolidate and then spread back out.

  • Is difficult to evenly spread out the hog fuel after the grinding is done.

  • Repeated tracking over the ground to consolidate increases soil compaction.

  • Residual roots still need to be ripped and gathered

  • Cost is usually the highest of the 3 processes.

  • Equipment is very specialized and generally must be hired out with highly skilled operators

    In short, this is the best option for those wanting to repurpose the material for another use like bedding, or if it must be loaded and hauled off-site.

orchard removal

Mulch and Rotovate

This process is different from both of the others in that it does not require relocation or consolidation of the material, in fact, the more consolidated the less efficient the operation. The first step is to send in a large high-HP mulcher, to be efficient this must be at least 500 hp or more. The first mulcher drives right into the standing tree and pushes it over while mulching the trunk and crown of the root ball. This happens tree after tree through the entire mulcher in a continual motion.

 

The next step is to bring in a highspeed, high hp mulcher that will quickly reduce the mulched tree into finer and finer particles while evenly distributing the material. This may be done over 1-4 passes depending on the biomass density and the particle target size.

After the particle size is reached that is desired a rotovator on a 500+ hp tractor is used to thoroughly grind the stumps and roots into small pieces conducive to farming. After the initial grind on the stumps, the rotovator makes a full coverage pass over the entire area. This final pass further breaks down the roots and stump particles, fully mixes the mulch into the soil, and buries any over-sized chunks deep into the soil.

 

PROS:

 

  • No need to consolidate trees.

  • Adaptable to different specifications and circumstances.

  • Because traffic is not as concentrated work can be done in wetter conditions. 

  • Little to no hand labor is required. 

  • Soil is thoroughly cultivated when completed in most applications.

  • Organic material is thoroughly spread and mixed into the soil as part of the process

  • No smoke or excess vehicle traffic transporting material off-site.

  • An acre can be completely converted from orchard to farmable at up to 10 acres per day.

Increased organic matter content.

 

CONS:

 

  • Not generally suitable if the desire is to haul material offsite or process for other use.

  • If trees have already been placed in piles it may not be the most efficient method, however, this can vary.

  • Can be dusty when dry.

  • Generally slightly more expensive than piling and burning.

  • Very specialized equipment is not available to most farmers.

  • Increased variability of particle size over Pile and Grind

    This method is how we attack most orchards, It is a very effective combination of processes to deal with a crop removal project without the need to haul off or burn.

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Agriculture, Services

Introduction:

When the time comes to remove a hazelnut orchard to make way for new developments, selecting the most suitable method is crucial. Among the available options, the Mulch and Rotovate technique proves to be highly advantageous for hazelnut orchard removal. This process, involving mulching the trees and thorough soil cultivation, offers specific benefits tailored to hazelnut orchards compared to alternative methods. In this article, we will explore why Mulching and Rotovating are often preferred for hazelnut orchard removal.

Efficiency and Adaptability for Hazelnut Orchards:

One of the notable advantages of the Mulch and Rotovate process for hazelnut orchard removal is its efficiency and adaptability to the unique needs of different clients. Unlike other approaches, it eliminates the need to relocate or consolidate the trees, saving time and reducing labor requirements. By employing a high-powered mulcher, hazelnut trees can be efficiently mulched in a continuous motion, streamlining the process and minimizing disruption to the surrounding area.

Thorough Soil Cultivation for Future Plantings:

Hazelnut orchard removal requires thorough soil cultivation to prepare the land for future plantings. With Mulch and Rotovate, the high-speed, powerful mulcher reduces the tree particles to a fine consistency, ensuring the effective distribution of the mulch material. The subsequent pass of the rotovator grinds the hazelnut stumps and roots into smaller pieces, facilitating their integration into the soil. This meticulous cultivation prepares the land for subsequent hazelnut plantings or other crops, promoting optimal growth conditions and maximizing future yields.

Enhanced Organic Matter Integration:

Mulch and Rotovate excel in harnessing the organic matter from hazelnut trees during the orchard removal process. By thoroughly spreading and mixing the mulch into the soil, the technique enhances the organic content and nutrient availability. This integration of organic matter promotes soil fertility, moisture retention, and overall soil health. Many growers also spread amendments in between the mulching and rotovating processes for us to mix into the soil.

Environmental Considerations and Hazelnut Orchard Removal:

Mulch and Rotovate offer environmental benefits specifically suited to hazelnut orchard removal. By mulching and cultivating the hazelnut trees on-site, it eliminates the need for excessive vehicle traffic and smoke-emitting burning processes, minimizing air pollution and carbon emissions. Furthermore, the method’s ability to operate efficiently in wetter conditions reduces the risk of soil compaction, safeguarding the delicate root systems of future hazelnut plantings. Some soils and conditions can not be worked in, but the options are much greater than other methods. This environmentally conscious approach aligns with sustainable agricultural practices and helps preserves the ecological balance of the land.

Cost-Effectiveness for Hazelnut Growers:

While there may be slightly higher initial costs associated with Mulch and Rotovate for hazelnut orchard removal, the long-term benefits make it a cost-effective choice for hazelnut growers. The elimination of manual labor reduced transportation needs, and avoidance of specialized equipment or operators contribute to overall cost savings. Additionally, the efficient conversion rate of up to 10 acres per day allows for faster progress, reducing labor costs and minimizing project timelines, which is particularly advantageous for hazelnut growers seeking timely land conversion between harvest and new plantings.

Conclusion:

For hazelnut orchard removal, the Mulch and Rotovate technique emerges as the optimal choice. Its efficiency, adaptability to hazelnut orchards, thorough soil cultivation, enhanced organic matter integration, environmental considerations, and cost-effectiveness make it the preferred option for hazelnut growers. By selecting Mulch and Rotovate, hazelnut orchard owners can efficiently remove existing orchards, prepare the soil for subsequent plantings, and promote sustainable hazelnut production while minimizing environmental impact and maximizing long-term economic benefits.

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Agriculture, Services
When we started this we really didn’t expect blueberry removal to be one of our most useful offerings. I didn’t think it was a big deal to take blueberries out. They seem like such a small light shrub that they would be the easiest of all the crops. It turns out I was wrong, but that turned out alright for everyone involved. They have become one of our favorite crops to work on and we have put a lot into optimizing our process.


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.
The problem with pulling them out and burning them is 2 fold, first of all, it’s not like an orchard that averages 120 trees to an acre. Usually, blueberries are planted in rows about 10′ apart and around 4′ from bush to bush. That’s over 1000 plants per acre. For each plant, there is a movement of the machine, typically an excavator. For each separate movement of the machine, there is a cost involved.


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.
The challenge of doing this correctly is controlling the bush and roots. Sometimes we use a flail first, then a mulcher, then a rotovator. Sometimes we go straight to a rotovator. Sometimes we only use a mulcher. Sometimes we even go in the opposite direction from normal. Sometimes we use a narrow rotovator, you get the idea… It all depends on the plant. Often a client has either tried to do it themselves or hired someone else to do it. We then get the call when it hasn’t turned out quite right. It’s not because we are awesome it’s just experience gained from doing it so often and learning from our mistakes.


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.
The result, when the process is done, is a plant in a million pieces, and that is probably literal. There may be a branch now and then that gets away from us. Maybe a chunk of root crown that is over baseball-sized once in a while. Overall the bush portion should be shattered into pieces less than 4″ in length, most only a few inches long at most. The root crown will be busted into pieces the size of a golf ball and smaller. The roots should be ground away down to a 1/2″ diameter or less.


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.
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Agriculture, Services

Farmers here in the valley know this well. For those just driving around, you have most likely noticed, that hazelnuts are getting planted everywhere in the valley.

Hazelnuts have had a long history in the valley, dotted here and there, breaking up the monotony of grass fields and the occasional row crop. In the past decade with industry fluctuations, and innovation on how this nut can be used; the market has expanded.

More and more old orchards have been replaced and thousands of acres have been converted from a different crop into hazelnuts.

Most new plantings are installed in a double-density pattern. This means that ultimately there are twice as many trees per acre as the mature orchard will have. This is done so that production will be higher earlier in life. The orchard pictured below was put in at 10’x20′ spacing with the goal of a 20’x20′ mature orchard.

We first started working in and around this crop in the renewal process; removing old orchards that were stricken with blight, so that a new resistant variety could be planted. We have renewed hundreds of acres now. 

 

In addition to full removal and land clearing for new orchards, we thin more and more acres every year. Every client is different in what they want for a final product. Some clients want the tree shredded extremely fine to be ready for harvest, while some just want it coarse so they can continue flailing on their own time. The end particle is generally directly correlated to the energy put into it along with other factors. Some clients just want the stump flush with the ground, some want most all the roots completely ground out, and some just want the center of the stump removed.

Wider spacing and square patterns let us fit in larger equipment to be more efficient. We have found that modifications and custom equipment are necessary to get the perfect result; at the right price point.

Overall it is a highly variable process and we treat every orchard and client as an individual; to get the result they are looking for. We love working with these farmers. They are understanding and team oriented. They have the attitude of “a rising tide lifts all boats” and “let’s all pull in the same direction”. I admire their resilience through uncontrollable markets and weather.

 

 

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