Reduced labour

While the area of land under vine continues to expand, there is a noticeable shortage of skilled workers and increasing uncertainty over the availability of migrant labour. Vitifruit Equipment is dedicated to finding effective machinery which can reduce the need for labour when managing the canopy.

Working with Stockmayer and Provitis, Vitifruit ticks a number of boxes in the vine trimming sector. Both trimmers are mounted to the front of the tractor and come in a range of set ups allowing for half, single or double row trimming.

“Trimming the vines at around two meters is an effective way to control unwanted growth,” said David Sayell at Vitifruit. “While the speed of operations depends on the surface in the vineyard and the operator’s proficiency, both machines have responsive and sensitive electric controls to increase accuracy.”

The Stockmayer machines are ideally suited for small and medium sized vineyards, while the exceptionally robust internal fabrication of the Provitis appeals to estate with significant acreages.

Mechanical de-leafers are also becoming increasingly popular and the Stockmayer and Provitis options are well designed and easy to manoeuvre allowing operators to work accurately with simple, responsive joystick controls.

“The de-leafers are very gentle and the Stockmayer has a sensing system to prevent damage to the fruit,” said David. “Both machines draw leaves towards vertical rotating rollers which pulls the foliage. It is a very similar process to doing it by hand and the operator has control over how much is removed.”

As well as improving air flow and reducing disease pressure, using the de-leafer close to harvest can help with ripening and pickers will also be able to easily locate the bunches.

The Provitis range benefit from a modular system approach, with the manufacture’s equipment for bud rubbing, pulling prunings out, de-leafing and vine trimming fitted to one common frame.

One revolutionary piece of Provitis equipment is its lifting and tying machine. With two machines now operating in the UK, at Tinwood Vineyard and Bluebell Estate, David believes that they are definitely something for the future.

“The tying machine hugely reduces labour costs,” said David. “The machine lifts the summer growth branches up, paying out string either side of the row and clipping the string together to hold the vine up, avoiding the need for manual cane lifting procedures. There is also a rewinding machine to remove the string at the end of the season.”

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