It has been many months in the planning but many years in the making. This week we took delivery of our brand new Regero lettuce planter.
When we started out I can recall having this wooden pole with 3 prongs that made the holes for the plants to go in and we would then proceed to plant the tiny plants by hand! We then upgraded to a machine, even back then it was an old machine but it did the job we needed it to for many years until last year we really did have to concede it had come to the end of its life.
Our new machine is a 4 row planter and can easily plant 20,000 plants an hour. It is operates pneumatically (this means by air pressure) and just requires at least one of us to feed the plants (blocks) down the shoots. The concept itself is quite simple but often the simple solutions are the best. Once the block is in the ground the machine pushes soil up around it keeping it place.
We have had a little break in the weather which meant we have been able to have the machine out in the field, planting in our first batch of little gem lettuces of around 26,000 plants. We were thankful to have 2 guys from the machine's dealership also on hand as we tested it out for the first time, just to make sure all the settings were just right and to train us how to alter these settings depending on conditions in the field.
This is going to make such a huge difference to our productivity with planting, which is a good job as this year we plan to grow 6 times the volume of our little gem lettuces which with equate to just over 410,000 lettuces! The plan is it be able to produce and pack this crop to be supplied across the country.
This machine will also be used to plant all of our other types of lettuces in addition to any other plants supplied as blocks (opposed to 'plugs') such as celery, early leeks and beetroot.
The guys on the farm have captured some great pictures and a video of our new machine in action. I am sure there will be more for us to share as the season really kicks into action.