Conservation tillage machinery for broccoli production

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Broccoli is increasingly being grown as an alternate crop in many tobacco producing regions. Many of these regions, especially in Virginia, are quite susceptible to soil erosion losses. In order to reduce erosion and reap the other benefits of conservation tillage, a strip tillage machine named FOR2 was designed, developed and tested. FOR2 prepares the seedbed and places the seed in one pass through the field. This thesis reports the qualitative and quantitative evaluation of FOR2 based on result from two experiments. The first experiment evaluated broccoli emergence under three different tillage treatments, one of which was FOR2. The second experiment assessed the influence of adjustable machine parameters on the prepared soil condition in terms of aggregate size distributions, The parameters that were varied included pre-planting irrigation amount, tiller depth, tiller RPM, and tractor speed.

The analysis revealed that the FOR2 machine produced commercially acceptable stands of broccoli with 77% germination. It was also determined that the percentage of aggregates in the seedbed greater than 0.297 mm was significantly influenced by the irrigation level and the tiller RPM. Tiller depth and tractor speed had no significant effect on the response.