A partnership between Vermeer Australia and SITECH Construction Systems, the Trimble Authorised Dealer has seen Andrew Peace Wines move from pine posts to a new semi-automated system to efficiently pile drive steel posts for their trellises and end strainers.
Pine posts for vineyard trellises have been a mainstay for years, but their limited durability, difficult removal and need for disposal have been issues for vineyard operators. Many are following a trend toward more sturdy and reliable steel posts that last longer and are more environmentally friendly.
This is the case for Andrew Peace Wines, an industry leading vineyard based in the Mallee region of Northern Victoria. Rod Duffy, Grower Liaison – Viticulture for Andrew Peace Wines, says the business is constantly looking at ways to improve efficiencies.
“We like to look at new, innovative measures that will ultimately lead to productivity and profitability savings for us and help us grow in the long term.”
This led Rod and the team to start investigating implementing steel trellising into the vineyard. This included considering the best way to do this, and what machine would be strong enough to drive the steel posts into the ground.
“We did a fair bit of research on what type of posts to use and which supplier. We landed with Ocloc steel vineyard posts, as they are Australian made and we’ve worked with them before so know they’re durable and can withstand any weather conditions.
“For the machine to place the posts, we knew a bit about Vermeer Australia and their equipment. When we saw what the Vermeer PD10 solar pile driver could do with installing solar piles we knew it could handle this job, too,” Rod says.
From there, they got in touch with Kevin Gilbert from Vermeer Australia about their idea.
“Kevin and the team have been great. They’ve been with us right from the beginning and talked us through the machine, and what time and cost saving efficiencies it could bring to our operations,” Rod says.
Kevin Gilbert says this is the first time in Australia the Vermeer PD10 has been used for this type of application and pairing the machine with a Trimble GPS will be a gamechanger for the industry.
“This is a big opportunity for the viticulture industry to see what the PD10 is capable of, and that it isn’t just suited for solar panels and posts, but Vermeer Australia can manufacture guides for any type of post. Plus, the PD10 has been customised to work with GPS systems, which will save a whole lot of time, money, and effort when it comes to installing trellises each year for vineyard operators,” Kevin says.
The Trimble GPS system with the PD10 allows Andrew Peace Wines to move away from using a surveyor to help place posts, and now have it all mapped out in the Trimble system.
“Previously, we’d work with a consultant to build a farm map to give us an idea on where to place the posts and the topography of the field and would then pass that to the surveyor for them to map out the best spot for the posts to be placed. It would need a team of about 10 people to help put the pine posts in over the course of around 100 days.
“Now, with the Trimble technology, we place the farm map into their program, and it tells us where the posts should go. Then the Vermeer PD10 uses that data to place in the steel posts, and we only need two labourers to help with the install. The GPS technology with the steel posts is going to be a real time and cost saver for us,” Rod says.
“For example, we lost about 12,000 pine posts last year due to bad weather and were spending about $250k a year on replacing broken posts, and that doesn’t include the costs for disposal – as we need to consider EPA protocols as they are treated pine.
“And in terms of time saving, we’re looking at 70 days for the posts to be installed using the Vermeer PD10 and Trimble GPS, compared to 100 days when we were planting posts manually. That’s about a month of time saved for us which can be crucial.”
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