Europeans Have the Cool Vineyard Machines

Since we have just finished painstakingly pulled out all of our pruned canes this Italian contraption from Berti is going to go on my Santa list as my body says it’s a must have.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCanSF1N83Q&t=58s

Not European but cool anyway-
https://mobile.twitter.com/TablasCreek/status/1383201284551970816

Pellenc is French. Not sure they are still making the Tournesol for weeding.

We use Pellenc’s Sunflower and ID David implements to great effect.

Never heard of or seen the Tournesol.

Nate: tournesol = sunflower when translated. Who sells you the ID David equipment in the USA?

You’d think with all those cool french vineyard machines they’d be using something other than candles in their fight against frost.

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All I can think of when I watch the OP video is that we need a remake of Fargo.

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Why not a flail mower followed by a disc? Mulch your cuttings back to the soil rather than removing the nutrients. In the video, it appears they mowed, then pruned, then contraption. We prune, then mow/flail so one step, less diesel.

Not sure of the sequence they use in the vineyard shown in the video. Also I don’t know the specific setup of the picker but it does have ripper-like teeth to feed canes into a section that has a flail mower that feeds the hopper. Not sure how low to the ground the flail mower is but it’s possible that they are mowing at the same time they are mulching the prunings. We are currently taking the prunings out of the vineyard to lower any potential disease pressure from one year into the next. Many in the east do as you suggest and mulch on the spot. We also do not disc our rows so as to improve our soil integrity through time. This is an ongoing strategy to improve our overall vine health by having healthy soils. Each year we try to tweak our practices to make them better towards improving the vineyard but we also try to find time savings in the steps we do. At the moment I’m spending a little effort to see if our prunings will make decent biochar so that we can blend with compost and put it back in the vineyard and improve soil health. I would put that one as a stretch goal at this point.

This year we did take the plunge and ordered a front mount Fischer Twister for weeding the undervine areas. I suspect that this will be much better than our rear mount Braun Luv-Perfect was. A couple years back I stopped using the Braun in our soils & weeds as I kept taking out vines and drip irrigation tubing. As with anything I suspect it’s not perfect but after time on the learning curve I think it will serve us well.

Well our vineyard weeder from northern Italy finally made it to our shores. Since we do not use herbicide I’m always on the look out for new technologies that will potentially work. The Fischer Twister seemed to foot the bill so I ordered one in the Fall of 2021. This unit is built like a tank and weighs as much as a tank. It requires two 12volt, one tractor hydraulics, and one 540rpm rear PTO connections. The PTO runs a self contained hydraulic system with cooling fan that supplies most of the functions to the weeder. Even though I have little seat time at this point it is a winner and does extremely well on most weeds. In addition it gets all the weeds around the vine trunks without harming the vines…when I get to newly replanted vines I turn off the weeder just before and restart just after. Over the next week I will add some before and after pictures with thoughts on what I’ve learned thus far.
Fischer Twister.jpg
Fischer rear hydraulic.jpg

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I’ll be interested to hear how this goes. It seems that most of the people I know have gone thru a number of different machines for undervine weed control before either finding something they like or throwing in the towel.

Looks cool, but potentially high maintenance…

Thus far I can tell that weeds with some leafiness are a breeze. Things like swallow wart, bind weed, tall clover, poison ivy, multiflora rose, Virginia creeper and similar plants go pretty easily. The straight grasses have a tendency to want to braid themselves into rope mostly on the ground or less frequently on the weeder shaft when they are tall. At the end of each row I’m checking for anything wrapped on the shaft. Nothing bad thus far but I’m not going through the tallest stuff yet. Also dense stiff mounded grasses are tough as they don’t cut easily. At this point I’m playing it conservative as I do not have spare line(8mm kevlar core) on hand from Italy. There are 3 flavors of line with orange(soft), green(medium), and white(hard). Orange and white came with the unit with no spares. The orange is clearly easy on the plant trunks and is no problem. I would like to try the green to see if that would be better on the dense mounding grass. The only other thing I would say is that like with all weeding machines it’s best to stay on top of weeds to get the best results. What I like about this is that you can still go after tall weeds if you need to. The other point that I need to get a handle on is the best spindle speed and travel speed vs weed height. For those large acreage vineyards this might not be the ticket based on travel speeds. For those vineyards alternating the roll hacke and rubber finger weeder with the Twister appears to be a solution people are using in Europe and Australia.

Not necessarily much more but the question is really what does one need to keep on hand besides extra trimmer line, grease, and fuses. Frequent inspection and greasing is key to this and most other pieces of vineyard equipment.

This, for me, is the crux of the matter with most mechanical, flaming or organic herbicide alternatives – they don’t really mesh well with letting a healthy undervine cover crop get established before you knock it down. Maybe the best of all worlds would be to grow a big stand of cover, let sheep take that down and then maintain the undervine strip with a machine like yours.

At the moment I’m happy with the diversity of plants undervine. Some are introduced/planned by us but at this point many are not. Many years back we did a perennial cover crop mix in the alleys that spread to the vine rows to join the seed bed there from many years of neglect. From the point you make it made me laugh as we chose to not use herbicides and see if we can deal with it and if we need to get rid of something we dig it out. The funny part is that we are going through the process of finalizing a Conservation Stewardship Program with the USDA and within their writeup they suggest we can use herbicide to get rid of some of the weeds. I know that the USDA cover crop specialist prefers to treat potential cover crop areas with herbicide first before you get started…