Following the withdrawal of diquat, Standen says many potato growers are still seeking an effective solution in haulm destruction of their crop. This has prompted its importing division to start offering Dutch manufacturer Vegniek’s DiscMaster series of precision haulm pullers.
While many growers now use haulm topping as their preferred method to remove the bulk of the haulm followed with an application of a PPO inhibitor such as Spotlight Plus (carfentrazone) and Gozai (pyraflufen-ethyl) to control tuber size and achieve skin set, its effectiveness relies on sometimes repeated applications of these expensive actives to achieve the desired results, the manufacturer says.
The manufacturer adds that increasing scrutiny will be placed on the use of chemicals going forwards, with the E.L.M. scheme looming large on the horizon with its focus on sustainability and reduction in reliance on chemical inputs.
The DiscMaster has been developed with a focus on reducing crop damage and ensuring that rows are effectively closed following the pass.
Via the spring-loaded haulm guides the haulm is brought to the hydraulically driven intake drums along with a small amount of soil that is directed to the hydraulically powered pull discs. Below the pull discs are stainless steel gliders that prevent potatoes from being pulled out of the row. As soon as the flow of haulm and soil leaves the pull discs it is guided to a set of diablo rollers which press the loose soil. The importer says the result is well-covered potatoes and closed rows which are resistant against weather influences.
The machine is carried on the rear of the tractor, and all elements are independently suspended for following of undulations. The haulm guides follow the rows and can be adjusted in all directions by a bolt. The speed of the pull discs is variable, adjustable from the cab and the working depth is adjustable via a spindle on the back of the machine.
Standen says the hardening process takes less time than relying on the time lag between herbicide application and it starting to be effective, with skin set achieved in as little as 10 days post haulm pulling. This reduction in time between hardening and harvest also reduces the likelihood of rhizoctonia infection taking hold, particularly important for seed producers, it adds.
There are 4 models to choose from; the DiscMaster 150, a two row model and the DiscMaster 300, a four row model, the DiscMaster 450 a six row rigid model, and the DiscMaster 450F six row folding machine. Options include load sensing hydraulics, and hydraulic lifting of the individual pulling elements.