The Pellenc Optimum carrier offers producers a multifunction solution that’s effective for all growing seasons. By Sandile Mkhwanazi

Napier Winery has gone the full Monty and mechanised all its operations by investing in the Pellenc Optimum carrier and three Pellenc implements. I asked estate manager Leon Bester about the impact the purchases have made and whether they justified the financial outlay.

Long-term investment

“The initial investment is a huge nut to crack, but obviously you have to balance the outlay with what matters most,” Leon says. “We chose quality, time management and skills development.” The farm has expanded and
investing in the Pellenc carrier obviated the need to buy more tractors and sprayers and providing a skilled driver for each tractor. “Its efficiency during the various growing seasons, including harvesting, spraying and pruning using only one machine, has justified the purchase,” he says. The Pellenc Selectiv’ Process (SP)
picking head destems and sorts the grape berries in the vineyard. This is a huge benefit as it not only adds
organic matter to the vineyard, but cuts down costs at the winery. “The clean berries, free of material
other than grapes (MOG) are pumped directly in the fermentation tank or press and these are cost savings,” says Leon.

Time management

He also says that with expansion some practices are invariably neglected. “Prioritisation is everything. Before I had the Pellenc Optimum sprayer, I had to dedicate a full week for each aspect of the programme to cover both farms.” Time efficiency is key when it comes to effective spraying. With the Pellenc carrier Leon has the option to spray during day and night, maximising both fuel and spray usage. The sprayer has a vortex system which ensures that there is no overspray. “The vortex system is so effective
that we use at most 300 l/ha with the Pellenc, which is a third of what a
standard tractor uses.” With the Pellenc pruner, fitted to the Optimum multifunction arm, he has also halved the time spent on pruning due to the fact that he can now start pruning two months later. The Pellenc pruner does 90% of the job at a speed of 5 – 6 km/h. Furthermore Napier also invested in the battery powered pruning shears that makes the final pruning easy and two times quicker.

Worker development

“Mechanisation has provided us with an opportunity to focus more
on our permanent workers,” Leon says. With the Pellenc doing more activities on the farm, he now has more time to upskill his workers. Not only has this increased their skill set, but it has also improved the
quality of their work which results in a quality product. It has also made the organisational structure of the
company more flexible. “We now have our guys fixing irrigation pipes, pulling wire and focusing on many other aspects of production,” he says. Leon has already trained several workers to operate the Pellenc Optimum so he
can alternate with them. w
Pellenc Optimum carrier vs standard implements
One driver and Pellenc
Optimum Sprayer = three tractors, three spraying tanks and three drivers.
One Pellenc Optimum and 10 permanent workers = 30 seasonal workers plus current permanent workers in
the vineyards. Pruning time is shortened by two months.
One Pellenc Optimum with Selectiv’ Process (SP) = no more sorting at the winery, less equipment, maintenance and energy usage.