Design and Test of Applicator for Kiwifruit Orchards to Mix Organic Fertilizer into Soil without Furrowing
The small space of kiwifruit and other pergola-structured orchards restricts the use of organic fertilizer applicators. The existing fertilization methods are labour-intensive and time-consuming, with low fertilizer efficiency. Therefore, a mechanized no-furrowing deep organic fertilizer application method was proposed, considering kiwifruit’s growth characteristics and shallow root distribution. The method consisted of three simultaneous and successive steps: fertilizer spreading, fertilizer-soil mixing and soil covering. No furrow was opened during fertilizer application, but the fertilizer was mixed into the soil and not exposed to the ground. Based on this method, a non-furrowing deep organic fertilizer applicator for kiwifruit orchards was developed with height of 1.5m, power configuration of 37.5kW, and fertilizer box volume of 1.2m3. The organic fertilizer applicator consisted of a low-side seat tractor, fertilizer trailer, fertilizer spreading mechanism, fertilizer mixing mechanism, anti-twisting mechanism, and reel mechanism. The fertilizer mixing mechanism rotated and cut the soil to realize the fertilizer-soil mixing and the soil covering of the mixed layer. The radius of the anti-twisting wheel was determined to balance the torque generated by the one-sided arrangement of the fertilizer mixing mechanism. The reel mechanism simultaneously retracted the fertilizer mixing mechanism and the anti-twisting mechanism, and the working angle of the fertilizer mixing mechanism can be adjusted according to the terrain. The optimal knife-to-machine speed ratio was determined as 32 based on the discrete element simulation analysis of the working process of fertilizer mixing mechanism. The results of field test showed that under the working condition of the maximum designed fertilizer applying depth of 150mm and the fertilization amount of 5.0kg/m, organic fertilizer was mixed into the soil, the relative error of the fertilizer applying depth was less than or equal to 7.73%, the fertilizer exposure rate was less than or equal to 5.56%, and the average power consumption of the fertilizer mixing mechanism was 4.7kW, which met the requirements of organic fertilizer application in kiwifruit orchards. The research result provided a novel method and efficient equipment for organic fertilizer application in kiwifruit and other pergola-structured orchards.
Keywords: kiwifruit orchards, organic fertilizer, non-furrowing fertilizer applicator, fertilizer mixing mechanism, discrete element
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