HIGH-SPEED CULTIVATION OF VEGETABLE CROPS WITH FINGER-WHEEL CULTIVATORS

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  • 1 Hammond Research Station, Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Hammond, LA 70403

The Precision Cultural System (PCS) developed by the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station allows simple and precise cultivation of vegetable crops; however, speed of the cultivators in small vegetable crops has been limited. The standard PCS sweep cultivator was limited to about 1.6–2.4 km·h–1 in small crops because it would throw soil over the crop plants at higher speed. The standard PCS rotary tiller cultivator could operate at 3.2–4.8 km·h–1 in small crops but could not be operated faster in larger crops, due to its tendency to “walk” out of the soil at higher speeds. The standard PCS sweep cultivator was modified by replacing the sweeps between the twin drills with two pairs of straight finger-wheel (“rolling cultivator”) spiders non-angled and in tandem. The finger-wheel gangs on the bed sides were also inactivated by raising them above the soil. The resulting PCS cultivator was successfully operated in very small crop plants (≤25 mm high) at speeds of 8–10 km·h–1 with no crop damage. The cultivator could then be easily refitted for standard sweep cultivation on subsequent passes. No reductions in weed control or yield of mustard, kale, turnip, or spinach were noted when using the high-speed system.

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