Technological innovation is a nodal issue for the productive transformation of the field. The incorporation of the same in the productive processes can generate positive impacts, such as the increase of productivity and profitability, reduction of costs and time, improvements in working conditions, and sustainability in production, as long as its implementation is planned and handled efficiently.

With the aim of optimizing the production process on farms and facilitating the work of the personnel involved, as of 2013 Citrusvil began testing and implementing different types of machinery, seeking in each campaign to grow technologically, and innovate by providing creative solutions based on Respond to the specific needs of the company.

MECHANIZED HARVEST

There are two harvesting systems, manual and mechanized, in some cases the combination of both is necessary.

The manual harvest is predominant for the collection of lemons for consumption in fresh and export, since it allows to select the product in its adequate state of maturity and to handle it with greater care, guaranteeing in this way a greater quality and less damage.

Mechanized harvesting, on the other hand, is preferred for harvesting the lemon for industrial purposes, and its main objectives are to increase the speed of harvest, decrease production costs, and facilitate the work of the growers.

To gain efficiency in this type of fruit collection, a work team was formed in Citrusvil, with professionals specifically dedicated to optimizing the mechanical harvesting system, currently operated by a Colossus and two half Karpos. From the sector, through research and creativity, the machines were adapted to meet the company’s productive requirements.

Campaign 2019:

“The mechanized harvest has to be accompanied with a change in the concept of the current citrus industry. We must be disruptive to achieve efficiency in each link of the production chain, optimizing systems and machines, working on the formation of plants from the beginning, as well as the adaptation of the industry. ”Commented Eng. Joaquín Amuchastegui , Head of mechanized harvest and sprays.

Unlike the manual harvest, the mechanically harvested lemon contains traces of leaves, branches and dust. In order to minimize organic waste, we worked on the cleaning system by installing, on the one hand, brushes “sticks” that let only the lemon pass by its own weight, and expel the branches and leaves towards the trail and, on the other hand, improving the power of the turbines that blow the leaves.

Also, this type of harvest has a degree of inefficiency, because it fails to dump or retain all the lemons, leaving a remnant that must be subsequently collected manually. To improve the level of capture of the fruit, a system of strapping that works as combs on the trunk was implemented, which reduces fruit losses, as well as breakage and damage to plants.

Yield 2019: 60% fruit capture – 20% residual fruit in soil (80% dump effectiveness) – 20% residual fruit in plant

“This year’s results generate many expectations, because we know that we are on the right track to continue improving harvest efficiency. Thanks to the continuity achieved in the process, we have fulfilled the objective of the volume destined for industry, and we have greatly reduced crop residues, improving the conditions and quality of the fruit, ”said Juan Altamiranda, Citrusvil Primary Production Manager, and concluded: “We have formed a solid and committed team, which through training and experience has understood the importance of the objectives set, and that are part of the result achieved.”

SPRAYING: PRECISION AND EFFICIENCY

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Spraying is one of the agricultural labors that has evolved the most in recent years. The accelerated search for precision in treatments for crop protection has led the sector to develop and implement maximum efficiency application systems.

Currently in citrus farming specific pesticides are used to control pests and diseases. That is why their applications must be as accurate as possible, since any fault that occurs in the spraying can be detrimental to the health of our farm.

In order to increase the effectiveness in the application, Citrusvil began to enter with different technologies, in order to determine which options are better adapted to the size and needs of the plants, without neglecting the care of inputs and supplies. natural resources.

On the one hand, we are testing the electrostatic spray system, which consists of the generation of smaller drops than the conventional ones, which are electrically charged by means of a ring a metal located in the spray tip. Once the drop is loaded, it quickly travels to the target, strongly attracted by the opposite load of the plant or plant tissue. The formation of smaller drops (less than 70 microns) allows a better dispersion of the product per cm2, reducing the amount of water needed and saving on phytosanitary products, and in turn prevents the drift of the drop in the air, thus avoiding pollution in sectors surrounding the farm.

3000Lts / Ha. at 1000Lts / Ha – estimated reduction of the volume of water required per floor area

“The electrostatic drop enhances all these benefits, since it generates a high level of adhesion on the plant, reaching its destination without any deviation or losses. This load does not produce any alteration to the active principles of the phytosanitary products, and contributes to the saving of fuel, since the pulverizing machines can work to lower pressure of pump ”, explained Amuchastegui.

During this season, Citrusvil was undergoing a major renovation of plants on farms, so we have many hectares of young plantations. Because the cup of these lemon trees is still very small, spraying generates waste in the free space between the trees. Therefore, and to optimize resources, we are implementing selective spraying in this case. This consists of an arc that runs through the rows covering the upper part of the trees, which consists of an ultrasonic sensor that detects the volume, and sends a signal to the solenoid valve to open it just above the canopy, then closing in the empty spaces.

Estimated water savings: between 30% and 50% * compared to the current volume used in our farms.

Currently, citrus sprays are applied with standardized amounts of water per unit area (between 3,000 and 5,000Lts / Ha), according to the age range of our farms. However, we can find lots of the same age, but with trees with different canopy volumes, depending on the variety of this or the graft holder.

In order to prevent excess or deficiency of water in the plants, we are looking to obtain accurate data regarding the volumetry of the cup / hectare, for which we turn to an octocopter drone with multispectral camera. Thanks to this equipment we managed to obtain a three-dimensional image of high definition and precision in relation to the volume of each cup, which allows us to adjust the amount of water to be applied, respecting the same application rate per cubic meter of cup (0.2Lts / m3),

Estimated water savings: from 12% to 35% * depending on the time of year.

Spraying is one of the highest costs in citrus activity. That is why, through the implementation of these technologies, in our production units we aim to save water, which translates into significant savings of chemical products, as well as time and operating cost. “The objective of this technology is to look to the future. Being an ecologically viable system, we must project ourselves in the correct and efficient use of water, minimize the exposure of operators to pesticides and reduce the cost of labor, ”concluded Eng. Amuchastegui.