A mechanical solution for the rhizome sectioning in giant reed (Arundo donax L.) nurseries
Pari, L.; Acampora, A.; Santangelo, E.; Civitarese, V.; Assirelli, A.
Sixth edition of the International Conference on Agricultural Development and Sustainability, Agrocentro 2014, 9 - 11 April 2014 VI Symposium of Agriculture Engineering
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Raciel Lima Orozco
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Owing to its floral sterility, the Arundo is propagated through rhizomes, a practice labour-demanding and expensive that could benefit of an efficient mechanized harvesting. To this aim, in a commercial stump grinder the original curved hoes were replaced with new (L-shaped) dedicated hoes, specifically designed for rhizome sectioning. A rhizome section size, around 50 mm, was established as a target taking into account the experience of the nursery managers and the chance to produce propagation material suitable for automated packaging. Three different settings of the stump grinder were considered for reaching a rhizome length ranging between 4.4 and 6.4 cm.
The conceived modification of the hoes has proved proper and the machine demonstrated able to section and dig up the rhizomes directly on field. The results were particularly encouraging. In fact, regardless of setting, the percentage of rhizome sections longer than 5 cm was 88.7% of the total number of rhizome sections harvested demonstrating that the careful definition of mechanical parameters may lead to get the target cutting length with a high level of reliability.
The analyzed settings have allowed to obtain rhizomes in specific classes of length (<5 cm, 5-10 cm and >10 cm) with a good rate of survival and shoot production, hence suitable for their use in Arundo propagation. Looking forward, towards an even more ambitious goal, it appears feasible to modulate the mechanical parameters in order to obtain reproduction material ready for packaging, with a positive impact on the economic balance of the crop.