Pearson - Fountain Automatic Transplanter
The Pearson AUTOPLANTER is the result of a 10 year development programme, initially undertaken by major Lincolnshire plant growers R. Fountain & Sons and now by Richard Pearson Ltd. Excellent manufacturing pedigree. Since 1955, RICHARD PEARSON Ltd has over 50 years experience in the design, manufacture and marketing of a range of agricultural machinery which is sold worldwide.
Fountains recognized the need for a non-labour intensive transplanter to match the rapid growth in use of modules for Brassica plants and the need for Nursery Growers and Farmers to use their existing, rigid plastic module trays.
Armed with their years of experience and plant knowledge Fountain’s began designing the machine from the point of view of a plant and how best to handle it, and not simply from an engineering standpoint.
Many other designs that existed around the world suffered from inherent problems of poor plant handling and reliability. They settled on a basic design. The Mark 1 Prototype machine commenced in 2000 and was tested in 2001.
A second prototype Mark 2 machine was built and field tested in 2002. The Mark 3, a 5 head machine followed and completed over 500 acres in 2003 in a variety of soil conditions and a full range of Brassica varieties.
Growers were very impressed with the accuracy and speed of planting and the upright nature and firm seedling position in the soil.
A Worldwide Licensing Agreement was signed between RICHARD PEARSON Ltd and R Fountain & Sons Ltd in 2004.
Since 2004 the Pearson team has worked closely with Fountains and evolved and developed the Autoplanter. Superior enhancements and the use of modern, high-tech materials have transformed the prototype into the world’s most exciting Automatic module transplanter.
Latest models are working in Brassica crops in the UK and in Tomatoes in the USA.
As the planter requires just one operator the LABOUR SAVINGS are truly exciting and result in a short payback when planting for a typical 100 day UK season
1.5 to 2 years. The best germination rates will give the fastest payback.
Averages 20% more per day than 10 row semi-automatic machines
Can be worked in two shifts for near 24 hour work when required. Dry weather advantages over lightweight manual planters are that plants are firmer and deeper planted in ridges when needed. Deals with damp and wet soils well, thanks to good coulter design and clean press wheel.
Auto-sensing Selection takes place at up to 3.5 plants per second for handling poorly germinated trays with ease. Unlike plants in-filled by hand after the machine has passed - ALL machine planted modules will grow on as the others. Some cross-rooting is handled with no loss of speed and lower germinated trays can be in-filled to a higher germination level.
An innovative Positive Pick mechanism ensures an excellent ‘clean’ tray. Modules should have a good root structure for effective handling through the machine.
An even canopy denotes a Pearson Autoplanted field!
EASE OF OPERATION
The Autoplanter is simple to operate thanks to a well thought out program with an intuitive touch-panel interface. Training is minimal.
Proven, reliable components coupled with a three year guarantee on Mitsubishi Industrial Electronics
Just 1 skilled operator and 1 tractor driver No gang labour, no constant re-training and supervision.
SIMPLICITY OF OPERATION
There is one main job for the Operator. He has only to input into the control panel the tray size and plant spacing. Should any problem arise during planting, he pulls a cord attached to a buzzer to draw the driver’s attention.
After stopping, the intelligent software is pre-programmed to recognise and remember it’s position and will automatically restart the machine in the correct plant setting.
ACCURACY OF PLANTING
A problem experienced by is the cross rooting in trays between adjacent modules. An clever, patented separation system overcomes this problem.
A line of picking fingers removes the modules from a tray and before the precision placement into pairs of index fingers, each picking finger assembly (rod and block) separates, rather like a concertina, teasing apart the roots from the adjacent module and inserting the module into the Index fingers.
The design greatly reduces and normally negates the risk of foliage entanglement.
Module knife retainers
As the row of modules is precisely placed into the index fingers, a set of flat knives enters from the side into each module, anchoring each one in the correct position in the base of each pair of index fingers as the picking fingers then retract upwards.
Furthermore, as each module approaches the transfer point into the delivery belts, the index fingers open up wider and further separate the seedling module prior to the fast transfer down to the coulter.
Superior indexing avoids ‘gapping up’
A positive system senses the lack of foliage so, when detecting a missing plant, the index belt automatically speeds up to replace the empty module. There is a sensor for each index belt.
The other heads continue to plant at the standard pre-set setting and the head which has compensated (indexed) for the missing plant also returns to the standard pre-set spacing for the next plant. There are no large gaps and no infill needed - which means - No ‘dibbing-in’ labour is required!
The seedlings are handled precisely and gently. Once the seedling has been indexed it passes into the delivery belt. This special long life belt has a cushioned surface to maintain a gentle grip on the stem and foliage without damage - maintaining the spacing set by the computer and transporting modules down into the coulter.
Large press wheels
Mounted on bearings and machined for accurate rotation and scraping efficiency, the large diameter press wheels firm the plants into the soil and contribute to the planted seedling maintaining an up right nature. Any sticky soils are cleaned off by a precision mounted scrapers and rubber flaps minimise soil adhesion.
Depth of planting
There are 4 rubber depth wheels mounted under the planter chassis, to accurately maintain the seedling planting depth
Total seedling Control
The whole concept of the design from pickers through to coulter is one of total seedling control. Every mechanical section, from the tray to the delivery coulter, holds the module so it is totally under the planter’s robotic control. This contributes greatly to the speed, spacing accuracy and ground positioning of the seedlings
MINIMAL SERVICE AND MAINTENANCE COSTS
The major drive and control components are from MITSUBISHI Industrial Automation Systems Division . A market leading supplier with a superb reputation for high quality, reliable components. Pearson are offering an 3-year warranty, backed by Mitsubishi who have a Worldwide network. All parts are high quality and durable with precision machining for a trouble free and long working life.
Importantly, the main moving parts need no lubrication at all. This avoids build up or entrapment of dust and any other material; all of which can be removed by regular blow down using the compressed air facility provided.
Strong steel picking fingers
If bent during use, they can be quickly exchanged. Replacement is a simple, quick operation and damaged fingers can normally be re-positioned back into their usual shape for later use.
Nylon Index fingers
Manufactured from high strength nylon and lifetime lubricated to assist in efficiently shedding soil, compost and roots. They clip-on for quick replacement.
Daily inspection and maintenance involves regular cleaning of key working parts. A compressed air gun and self-recoil line is provided. Removable or opening covers provide easy access.
A modem allows PEARSON to remotely monitor the performance of your machine and carry out diagnostics and remote programming if needed.
The PEARSON AUTOPLANTER has been designed to use standard sizes of rigid plastic trays. Chances are your standard trays will fit thus avoiding the considerable investment in bespoke (specially designed) trays - potentially at a premium price when compared to standard trays