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WP4: Farm Technology and Machinery

A part of the newly developed cultivating practices require appropriate machinery, e.g. for sowing mixed stands, for direct drilling and planting into cover crops, for complete or partial cover cop, suppression or killing, or for weed suppression.

The equipment has to be light-weight and energy-efficient and, in many countries also adapted to the needs of small farms. Both simple and technologically advanced solutions are therefore considered in OSCAR. Since the diffusion of the new cultivation methods depends on the availability of suitable equipment, the involvement of producers of agricultural equipment is particularly important. As the economic and ecological conditions differ widely between countries, both medium sized and small companies from several countries with different economic conditions will be involved in the development of the machinery.

The farm machinery work in OSCAR consists of three parts.

Identification of needs and available solutions (gap analysis)
The current state-of-the art concerning technology cover cropping systems in the countries involved will be assessed:
1. Technology already in use for minimum tillage systems that are based on cover crop or living mulch;
2. Novel approaches, which have been proposed or already tested, but which need further elaboration;
3. Analysis of technology gaps.


2) Design and implementation of a modular system to test different solutions for cover crop suppression, sowing and planting

Basic devices will be constructed and distributed to the participants of the working group. The basic device should (1) allow application of different soil tillage tools for primary tillage (only where needed) e.g. inverting and non-inverting tools with varying intensities and patterns; (2) allow a precise regulation of depth including extremely shallow soil tillage, typically for seedbed preparation; and (3) allow combining of the tillage operation, particularly the shallow tillage, with seeding or planting equipment suited to the crops to be grown, (e.g. drilling, mixed drilling, precision seeding, for both the main crops and cover crops simultaneously). Two different systems will be considered: (a) a system for use with larger 4-wheel tractors, (b) a system for use with smaller and simpler tractors.

3. Testing and improving techniques and equipment for SC based minimum-tillage systems
Testing and improving implements for cover crop killing, formation of mulch layers, and compost application Each participant actively involved in the technology development (Wenz, FERRARI, UNITUS, INRA,) will establish test fields with relevant cover crops, to check the functionality of the newly developed implements.