The state of the art of harvesting hazelnuts technology: which solutions are available today?
Once upon a time, hazelnuts were picked up one-by-one and by hand. Today, modern technology offers farmers and hobbyists new solutions that make them save fatigue, time and manpower and allow industrial hazelnuts farming.
The increasing usage of hazelnuts as ingredients of many industrial food products (for example, the celebrated Nutella) has made the shifting to industrial hazelnuts farming quite inevitable. However, industrialization has also increased consumer preference for organic products, with the consequent necessity to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture.
Provide that hazelnuts are harvested once fallen to the ground, and, therefore, it is necessary to preliminary prepare the land, today there are three technological approaches that can be used in hazelnut harvesters.
Fruit collector baskets
A fruit collector basket is anything else than an iron grid basket connected to a long pole. It is operated manually by rolling it on the ground, in order to filter the hazelnuts out of dust, leaves and grass.
This device is not much helpful in industrial hazelnuts farming, as harvesting hazelnuts with fruit collector baskets would take a lot of time and a real army of pickers. Then, they are used by hobbyists or in house gardens only.
Other problems are connected with the facts that their use is very uncomfortable on a rugged ground and almost impossible when the grass is high. In conclusion, despite its environmental-friendly appearance, the collector basket does not avoid the necessity of the preliminary preparation of land with pesticides and other chemicals.
The advantages are low prices and intuitive use. In addition, it can be also utilized to harvest chestnuts, olives, and other fruits on the ground.
In conclusion, fruit collector baskets can be a great idea to spend a pleasant day with your friends in the countryside and a good solution for the owner of a small garden. But, unfortunately, they are not an option for professional farmers.
Vacuum hazelnut harvesters
Conceptually similar to a vacuum cleaner, the vacuum hazelnuts harvester is composed of a motor aspirator connected to a suction pipe equipped with a set of filters.
This harvesting machine can be mounted on wheels or tracks to be driven on road, or reduced to a smaller device that the operator wears as if it were a backpack.
The power is conveyed by the tractor through a shaft. An alternative approach is to equip the vacuum hazelnuts harvester with a small engine.
The main disadvantage of this solution is that it is necessary to preliminary treat the land with chemicals, as it is impossible to operate when the weeds are too high. Another problem is that vacuum hazelnut harvesters cause a big quantity of dust.
The advantage is that these devices are powerful enough for industrial harvesting. In facts, this technology has been the first adopted.
In particular: shoulder vacuum hazelnut harvesters
A solution particularly suitable for small plots of lands, shoulder vacuum hazelnut harvesters allow farmers to reach the farthest zones of their plantations through the flexible pipeline.
However, they are heavy and uncomfortable: operators cannot wear these machines for a long time and have to adopt particular safety measures, like protective glasses, masks and headphones.
- You can reach the farthest zones of your plantation, which makes the vacuum hazelnuts harvester a good solution for small plots and gleaning.
- It is very flexible, as you can use this instrument to harvest also chestnuts, olives, and other fruits on the ground.
- Heavy and uncomfortable
- Not employable on large plots
… and the models mounted on a special vehicle
Cost-effective and powerful, these machines allow farmers to harvest large plots of lands in a reasonable time. Therefore, they are a good solution for industrial hazelnut farming.
However, they cannot reach the most remote places in a plantation. Many models are difficult to operate on hilly lands, or when the spaces between two rows become too narrow.
- Powerful and effective, the hazelnut harvesters of this kind are a great solution for large plots of lands.
- Great save of manpower and time, at the point that a small group of pickers can harvest a huge plantation in a couple of days.
- Models with independent drive have to be registered and homologated, in order to circulate in road.
- The biggest models are less effective on hilly lands. They could cause dangers on slopes, rugged grounds and narrow rows of trees.
- The remote places of your plantation are unreachable by most models.
In some few cases, there is no manpower saving, as some models require the preparation of the heaps of material (a mixture of dust, leaves, grass and fruit) to suck, with a subsequent need to hire many workers.
Brush hazelnut harvesters
This new technology was recently introduced with the purpose to solve the many problems of vacuum harvesters. It has been also adopted in the design of Cassinelli hazelnut harvesters [inserire Link con ancora “Cassinelli hazelnut harvesters” a pagina relativa]. As the name suggests, a brush system is used to wipe out the ground in place of aspiration.
Compared with vacuum harvesters, brush hazelnut harvesters offer multiple advantages:
- No need to previously treat the land with chemicals, as this kind of machines works well even on grassy lands. A very environmentally-friendly solution.
- No need to prepare the heaps to suck, which implies a big save of time (2-3 days) and manpower.
- No dust clouds.
As for vacuum harvesters, this technology is quite flexible, and it can be used to harvest chestnuts, olives, and other fruits on the ground. To do so, it is sufficient to equip your brush hazelnut harvester with a set of appropriate filters.
A problem, which is common to every professional harvester, could be the difficulty to reach the farthest places of your plantation. To resolve this issue, Cassinelli has adopted a special hydraulic shifting system that allows the farmer to operate the harvester like a chopping machine.
Other frequent problems are caused by some operations on difficult grounds. Thanks to the addition of counterbalance springs, Cassinelli hazelnut harvesters can be used also on slopes.
In conclusion, brush hazelnut harvesters are more efficient and environmentally-friendly than traditional vacuum harvesters. Not surprisingly, this technology is being adopted by an increasing number of manufacturers (in Italy, they are Cassinelli and other three businesses), and it can be considered to be the state of the art in harvesting hazelnut today.