Machinery and Equipment Guide

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Machinery and equipment required for asparagus production will vary by a grower’s preferred production method and operation size. The following discussion shares basic machinery and equipment needs for asparagus production. Depending on a grower’s operation size, expertise and previous machinery investments, the grower must determine whether to purchase and operate the equipment, engage a custom service provider or possibly rent and operate the necessary equipment.

Machinery and Equipment Needs

During the field preparation stage, machinery and equipment needs will depend on the desired preparation practices. For example, producers may choose to grow a cover crop to help with reducing weed pressure, so cover crop planting and eradication will involve equipment operations. To prepare the planting site, producers should use a plow after a fertilizer application to ensure that the fertilizer is moved into the growing zone for asparagus crowns to access. A fertilizer spreader can be used for applying nutrients to fields. Other possible field preparation equipment include a disk and harrow.

Asparagus plants grow in furrows formed using a middle-buster plow. If operations prefer to apply fertilizer within the furrow, then they may use a furrow opener that has an attached fertilizer hopper and conducting tube. As an alternative, operations may apply fertilizer using a small spreader after the furrows have been formed.

If an operation chooses to plant transplants, then a mechanical transplanter could be used for planting purposes. If an operation grows its own crowns, then a peanut digger or potato digger can remove crowns from the nursery site. Ultimately, planting the crowns in production fields requires hand labor. To assist with planting a large area, workers may ride on a trailer and drop crowns into open furrows.

To control weeds, operators may consider mechanical cultivation. However, cultivation has the potential to harm crowns if it’s not shallow. Extending too deep into the soil can also harm an asparagus plant’s root system. Choosing the right equipment is key. For example, a rototiller has the potential to harm crowns. In addition to addressing weed pressure, cultivation equipment can help to move soil into asparagus furrows gradually after planting. Mechanical operations, such as disking at a shallow depth, can also help to incorporate fertilizers such as phosphate and potash before spears emerge.

Herbicide applications may help to control weeds. A sprayer can apply the herbicide. At other times, a sprayer may be necessary to apply insecticides or fungicides. Water is an important input for asparagus production. To supply water to asparagus plants, trickle irrigation systems are good options as they expose the asparagus plants to little moisture and minimize evaporation losses.

Mechanized harvest equipment is available for asparagus. However, marketable yield tends to decline when operators choose to use mechanical asparagus harvesters rather than pick asparagus by hand. As a result, hand labor is typical for harvesting asparagus spears. However, like the trailer used to carry workers while planting asparagus, a harvest aid machine can help to expedite the time needed to harvest the spears by hand. Workers may ride on the harvest aid as they snap asparagus spears. Post-harvest, operations should store asparagus at 32°F to 36°F, and relative humidity levels should range from 95 to 100 percent. Choose a cold storage system that can provide these conditions.

After harvest, operations should allow the asparagus plants to produce fern-like growth. Ultimately, when it’s time to remove those fern residues, operators may cut them with a brush-hog mower near the soil surface. Using a flail chopper is an alternative to cutting the ferns. After cutting the residues, operators may disk the field at a shallow depth, but machinery operations must be shallow enough to avoid damaging crowns. Disking can also help to level the soil.

Basic Equipment and Machinery Needs for Asparagus Production

Needed Equipment
Tractor X
Drill X
Plow X
Disk X
Harrow X
Fertilizer spreader X
Sprayer X
Middle-buster plow X
Drip irrigation X
Brush-hog mower X
Wagon or trailer X
Cold storage X



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