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  • Writer's pictureJohn Bearsley

Ferrari Futura Robotic transplanter: the future of vegetable transplanting in Ontario?

If this year has taught us anything, it is the precarious situation the shortage of labour has affected the vegetable growing industry. Once the planes had started to fly, the quarantine procedures caused even more delays.

Producers who already had purchased a robotic transplanter knew the situation was less worrisome. Advantages commonly attributed to automation include: higher production rates and increased productivity, more efficient use of materials, better product quality. Machines don’t get tired. Many vegetable producers have been looking to automation in all parts of their operation for several years to alleviate the shortage and cost of labour.

Vegetable farming is a seasonal business. With some commodities, planting is less than a month of critical days.

Ferrari automatic transplanters and Ferrari automobiles are not related. No discounts will apply if you purchase a Ferrari automobile and you purchase plant transplanters. With the money you save using the transplanters, you may be able to purchase a Ferrari automobile.

While we think of automation as a new phenomenon, robotic planters have been around for over 30 years. The first prototypes by the Ferrari Company, appeared in 1992 which was the same year that the first fully-operational robotic milking machine appeared on a farm in Holland.

Ferrari is marked as a worldwide leader for planters and automatic planters. Over 10 percent of sales are robots and they build approximately 100 units per year. It is safe to say a growing number of acres are now being planted with robots. Not all crops are suitable for transplanters. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and other brassicas such as rutabagas can be planted with the system. It is also been used to plant tomatoes in Ontario.

Why transplanter automation?

• Labour costs (minimum wage increase is a huge hit to Ontario industries).

• if you need a new transplanter, consider an automatic one.

• Automated sorting and packing is now being used to save labour.

Let’s look at an actual farm: In 2017, a farmer was using 17 people in planting on an 8-row machine: a driver and eight workers on seats with eight people following to plant misses and switch out with the eight workers planting. They were planting 10-12 acres per day.

In 2018, there were only 2 people involved and with the correct sized Futura automated planter, the same number of acres can be planted per day with each robot planting 7,000 plants per hour.

Why did they choose the Ferrari robot? Proven track record, below robots transplant machinery same as a Ferrari manual planter, uses same size trays which meant there was no specialized equipment for propagators to buy, diamond planting design for better spacing of plants.

Basic working of Futura robots is that you put the standard transplanting tray into a sloped guide channel which slides the tray down towards the robot. The robot uses plastic fingers to catch the plugs which are pushed out of the trays by metal rods. The four flat plastic fingers which are applying pressure to the square plug plant move the plug in position over a box which holds the plant after it is dropped and then takes it to the planting shoe and drops it as needed into the dug trench. Infrared sensors tell the robot if there is a plant in the box . The robot drops a few plants each tray because of a seed which didn’t germinate or two plants getting tangled up just as they would on a manual transplanter.

Close up of fingers and trays picture hard to describe better to watch a video of finger close up go to

Advantages commonly attributed to automation include higher production rates and increased productivity, more efficient use of materials, better product quality, Scaleable from 2 rows to 12 From 1 robot to 12.

You can also get it in self propelled or trailer or 3 point hitch description from website (information i might want to use).

The Ferrari Futura is a fully-automated transplanter that can work with vegetables stored in trays of different sizes and materials. The machine works by on its own with one operator required to feed the transplanter robots with trays. Every robot extracts the seedlings using technology based on cylindrical plungers combined with moving fingers. There is no need to use a specific tray to run Futura, the machine will be adapted to the tray selected by the user. This is one of the features that makes the Ferrari automated planter a very innovative machine. The transplanter carousel turns in a clock motion (stop & go).

This specific feature is extremely important to guarantee a constant drop of the plants from the carousel to the shoe. The clock-motion allows to increase the performance per hour, the accuracy of both planting depth and plant spacing. Futura is also equipped with a self-cleaning kicker in the ploughshare. This device is extremely important to prevent dirt accumulation in the shoe. Clock-motion rotation combined with the self-cleaning kicker can guarantee a perfect plant timing without the need of doing any adjustment on the planter. The Futura yield is extremely high: up to 8,000 plants/hour/row. This transplanter can work up to 24 hours/day, 7 days/week without any yield drop. The machine can work both on flat ground and raised beds and it is available both in tractor-pulled and self-propelled version. The self-propelled version can guarantee easy manoeuvrability.

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