|Abstract in English:|
The mechanization of agricultural practices in hazelnut orchards, in order to achieve a drastic cut of production costs, is not sufficiently widespread in southern Italy. The present research aims to understand the agronomical and technical conditions which limit mechanization, in order to increase and improve its level.
Obstacles for an extensive use of machines are related to farming techniques. Farm management, cultivar choice and plant spacing must be appropriate for the mechanization requirements.The study was carried out in orchards located in Campania and Calabria, as an example for the improvement of future hazelnut expansion in southern Italy.The research regarded the following mechanized operations: desuckering with a swing arm shredder; brush cutter and manual tools; soil management for harvest (either tillage and rolling, or mowing a natural grass ground cover); harvesting with vacuum machines (front and side pick-up machines, with or without windrowing).Harvesters can perform single or multiple tasks (windrowing, harvesting and cleaning): in the first case, fruits accumulated around the trunk must be removed using blowers (back-carried or tractor-drawn), hand raking or sweeping; in the second case, the combined machine sweeps into a windrow, blows away from the trunks and lifts up the nuts (vacuum or pick-up machine), separates debris and cleans the product.Desuckering with a swing arm disk shredder is efficient on single trunk trees. Brush cutter is speedy but can cause trunk damage. Hand tools are labour-intensive and slow.In all harvesting methods, the best soil surface is obtained mowing a natural grass cover: the benefits range from lower dust production to the possibility of working on damp soil. The best harvest performance is obtained with self-propelled vacuum harvesters. Pick-up harvesters are efficient on wet ground and on turf, but they are slow and need a clean field. Suction fans raise a lot of dust even when equipped with cyclone dust separators.