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There's a level interplay of operational requirements, product and service

Jan Kalbitz, CEO of the fruit producer company Obstland AG Dürrweitzschen - 200 P Vario

There's a level interplay of operational requirements, product and service

On everyone's lips

Under the umbrella of the Sachsenobst brand, apples are the main produce, grown in the scenic beauty of the Saxon land of castles and heathland – using both conventional and ecological methods. But the main agricultural business is a multi-layered mixed holding.

In the heart of Saxony lies a region that is popular not only because of its stunning hills and cultural history – this is Saxon fruit country. Many of the attractions here are literally 'on everyone's lips', with numerous extensive orchards making produce that is sought-after far beyond Saxony. In the golden triangle between Leipzig, Dresden and Chemnitz, the favourable conditions ripen the most delicious apples, pears, quinces, plums, sweet and sour cherries, strawberries, red currants and gooseberries in huge quantities every year. Under the name 'Sachsenobst' these fruits and their bi-products, especially fruit juices and fruit wines, are successfully marketed by Obstland Dürrweitzschen AG.

The apple harvest is in full swing. The dynamic 200 P series Fendt Varios drive through the narrow 3.3-metre wide paths between the rows of the apple orchard. In tow is a picking cart fully loaded with wooden boxes. These are removed at regular intervals, so that they can be painstakingly filled by hand.

The 800 and more pickers have to pay special attention when picking apples: Is the apple ripe, does it have traces of gnawing, bruising, sunburn or even hail damage? The fruits are sorted accordingly. Last year, the harvest started early. Cold nights are called for. Because green apples gradually turn red only if they have the right temperature difference. They shine in the Fendt colours – Nature Green with red tones. When the boxes are full, the Fendt is put to work again.

A special rear forklift lifts the filled boxes. The rear hydraulics need to be sensitive; a requirement fully met by this small bundle of energy from the Allgäu. There's no 'Shake and quiver, little tree' called for here. Any small, uncontrolled movement like that can make the apples fall onto the wooden wall of the box and get bruised; the harvest can no longer be marketed as highly-prized fruit. Once the box has been lifted, the 200 model moves off smoothly, without any jolts. Like the large Varios, this narrow-gauge tractor is also equipped with the Vario gearbox, which allows for rapid acceleration without switching gears.

Smooth logistics

The load is collected, box by box. On its spring-loaded front axle, it glides through the rows of trees, over the traverses to the entrance of the orchard. This is where it transforms into the road vehicle – under the same conditions. “It's the combination of the hydraulics, spring-loaded front axle and step-less Vario gearbox that makes this narrow-gauge tractor the best purchase for box logistics,” says Jan Kalbitz, CEO of the fruit-growing business. And so apple variety upon apple variety is picked, sorted by commercial and industrial produce, sold, stored or processed onsite. How much will be left at the end of a year? Every penny counts.

If the quantity is good, the price is bad. If there are few apples, you can get a good price for quality produce, while industrial produce is processed into purée, juice, etc. The price per kilo for that is usually way down low. This is another reason why Obstland Dürrweitzschen AG has chosen Fendt. The slightly higher purchase price keeps the follow-up costs low and makes them manageable. The reliability of the tractors proves it – no breakdowns, low maintenance and low diesel consumption. And you need support during peak hours, two service partners are on hand to ensure that the harvest resumes quickly within a very short period of time.

As we all know, after one harvest, the next is just around the corner.

The next assignment is already planned for November – tree care. The crowns of the apple trees are topped on both sides. Full crowns, as you see in orchards, are not wanted even in the production of organic apples. This is the only way to reduce the pressure of illness. The two rows of trees must be cut evenly, so that the trees bear fruit again the following year. Winter break. Sniff your way through. Refuel, or rather carry out annual maintenance work. This is a must, because each of the 17 Fendt 200 P Varios gives out 1,000 to 1,200 operating hours per year. Since 2012, this fruit producer in Saxony has been putting the technology from the Allgäu to good use. In the past eight years, around 40 tractors have been sold, some of them resold already. “There's a level interplay of operational requirements, product and service,” explains Jan Kalbitz. He doesn't want to rock that boat, just like he doesn't want to shake his apple trees.

Mid-March. The early season now starts for the fruit grower. Especially in organic apple cultivation, it's important to pick the right time for plant care and protection measures. Since you're limited in terms of the solutions and methods you're allowed to use, the system is based on three pillars: Measures to reduce diseases and pests, promote and protect functional biodiversity and provide plant protection measures. The grass growth between the rows of trees is partially mulched while weeds are removed between the trees by a cultivator. Again, precision is required. The driver must steer the attachment as close as possible to the tree trunk without injuring it. For this, lifting power is needed at the front attachment – the Adelhelm cultivation technology is heavy, so high working speed must be guaranteed for this to work. Once again, the Fendt 200 model shines in its triumph – constant traction without switching gears. Agility and dynamics combined with a unique smoothness. Ultimate comfort for the driver. Drive slowly when mulching dense weeds; for less dense weeding, drive faster and continuously, without changing gears or interrupting the traction. The TMS controls the engine rpm and gearbox ratio for the ultimate in cost efficiency.

During the season, the fruit grower drives up and down the orchards, monitoring the amount of pathogens and fruit growth. Plant protection measures may be carried out to prevent the spread of diseases such as mildew or apple scab. Pests like codling moths must be tackled if they become rife. To defeat apple scab and other fungal diseases, organic apple producers have only three active ingredients they can use, which they often combine or use alternately. Copper, sulphur and potassium bicarbonate, otherwise known as baking powder. “Unlike some synthetic fungicides that penetrate the plant, these three active ingredients stay on the surface and only work right there,” explains Jan Kalbitz. This means the rain washes them off and the sun's rays decomposes them. So, organic fruit farmers have to treat their trees regularly to protect them from fungi. Effective work processes are required. With multi-row spraying, the active ingredient reaches a number of apple trees at the same time. Enter the unique technology from Fendt – lockable rear hydraulics. This is the only way to use the sprayer where it is needed, without automatic removal.

Now the apple specialist has done everything possible for a successful harvest, thanks to these little helpers. Obstland Dürrweitzschen AG sets standards in the production of organic apples. Just like Fendt did 10 years ago, when it introduced the Vario gearbox to its specialist 200 series tractors.