Planting a new forest using machines has always been a challenge. During the 70s and the 80s, the development went far. There were planting machines well underway, but as the iron curtain went down in the early 90s, it became possible for cheap and willing labor to come to Western Europe to do e.g., planting. They were much cheaper than the machines, so the development of mechanized planting stopped – temporarily.
Bracke P22.b – mechanized planting on the move again
The now classic Bracke P11 planting head has been around for approx. 30 years. Some 10 years ago, it was adapted to the dry conditions of South America, a model that got the name Bracke P12.a, that recently was upgraded to P12.b. In cooperation with Komatsu, the D61EM Planter was developed, a bulldozer equipped with three Bracke planting heads.
Now we have only mentioned one manufacturer of planting equipment, the Swedish company Bracke Forest. There are several others, some of which you can read about in a previous article. There is no doubt that the planting machines are on the move again.
Expoforest in Brazil – the arena for the P22 premiere
At the Expoforest, which took place on the 9th – 11th of August in Brazil, the new Bracke P22.b planter was displayed and demonstrated. The choice of venue for the premiere is no coincidence as the Bracke P22.b, just like the P12.b, is developed for reforestation in dry conditions e.g., in South America.
To put it simply, the P22.b is a double P12.b. Instead of one planting head, you have two, each carrying 196 seedlings which are 392 total. The spacing between the two planters is fixed but could be changed by adding or removing spacers between the heads.
Double link instead of tilt
One big difference compared to the P12.b is that the P22.b uses a rotator and a double link instead of a tilting system. The tilt on the P12.b ensures that the seedling is positioned upright also in slopes. On the P22.b, the planting heads “hang loose” which means that both will have contact with the ground and plant the seedlings upright independent of the terrain. With this simple solution, there is no need for positioning input from the operator or the control system.
Otherwise, the P22.b is much like the P12.b. It can be equipped with fertilizer and irrigation systems where both the water (or gel) and the granulated fertilizer are released simultaneously with the planting. There are “quick-fill-boxes” available that are prefilled and make the refill of the planters happen in seconds. Of course, someone must be there to refill the boxes as the machine is operating but it increases the production essentially.
The future is exciting
I have mentioned it before and it’s worth repeating – It’s about time that mechanized planting breaks through. If planting machines would have received the same financial backup as harvesters, we would have had great planting machines for a long time now. Instead, we have a long row of prototypes and one old concept in a new suit.
The Bracke P11, P12, and P22 are of course no prototypes. They are a range that proves that the development of planting machines is moving again, and it’s moving fast.
Let’s hope that Bracke Forest and its competitors manage to go all the way this time and create “the perfect planter”. As mentioned above – it’s about time.
Photos: Dr. Rafael Ribeiro Soler (Bracke Forest) and Cenibra