Fiorume, an opportunity for farmers – AgroNotizie

Today in the Italian market for works of naturalistic techniquelikegrazingthat Consolidation and drainage of slopes, slopes and banks, there are only mixtures of non-native seedsalmost never grown in Italy and without a genetic inheritance attached to the territory.

However, there is an alternative local and environmentally friendly: that fiorumea mixture of seeds of high naturalistic value produced by natural meadowsif use ensures to the new lawns excellent skills customization, resistance to stress and containment invasive species.

Freshly harvested flowers from a donor meadow with great biodiversity
(Photo source: Andrea Ferrario, naturalist at Studio FA Natura)

The supply chain of native seeds in Italy it is still under development: there are still few companies active in the sector and the machines that can be used are all imported. Only in the light of a recent increased interestin Lombardy and Pimonte, the first projects were born with the aim of starting local flower supply chains and evolve collection systems “made in Italy”.

We talked about these experiences and possible industrial development with Andrea Ferrarionaturalist by FA Natura StudioAnd Ivan Vaghiengineer and mechanical designer at Vaghi Engineeringboth involved in supply chain projects.

Fiorume, an opportunity for farmers

There collection of the fiorum it can be integrated – also generate additional income grazing or haymaking in all types of stable meadows, preferably connected to contexts where these are used for production intended for smaller farms, for example for dry cows, horses and sheep. This explains Ferrario, “because integration involves one delay in timing of mowing around twenty daysuseful to wait for maturation seeds and one quality reduction of the harvested product, which makes it less attractive for quality cattle feed “ emphasizes Ferrario, who adds “the greatest effect is given bylures feed after passage of funds for harvesting the flower, which can lead to reductions in hay yield up to 30%with rotary mowers, however, it is possible to minimize these losses “.

However, the collection of the fiorum can take place in marginal or not very productive areas, improve them. The possibility of operating in orchards, olive groves or vineyards to integrate the collection into other production chains.

A “short” supply chain

The production chain starts with the selection of donorenge. The botanical floristic information, the richness of native species in the meadow and the altitude range are used to evaluate price of the flower, which may vary between 15 and 35 euros per kilogram.

“Recognition of the price of the flower has always been a problem in Italy. In the beginning, only the province of Trento recognized the flower as a material for grass and only in 2019that Lombardy inserted it in forest price list says Ferrario.

The Fiorume supply chain is activated only after a specific request

The Fiorume supply chain is activated only after a specific request
(Photo source: Alessandra Luzzaro, University of Insubria)

(Click on the image to enlarge)

In the meadows, the guide speciesused to define pick-up times. “On average, about 1 hectare is obtained 60 kg of flower, with large fluctuations between 15 and 130 kg based on the type of lawn (water, lean or manure, mountain or plain) “ explains Ferrario.

Once the assembly is complete, it is necessary dry And package the flower if germination it holds in one minimum three years.

Mechanized harvest

Collection can be done with three types from cars which interact, by contact or indirectly, with the tip of the stems. The type of machine and the operator’s ability to adjust it can have important effects on quality and yield.

The first type is that of cars “shoulder” intended for collection in impenetrable areas, where there are valuable species. These slaughter machines collect seeds with very low yields.

Another type is aspirators: here the seeds are moved by an air flow, however weak interaction generated implies reduced efficiency.

The last type – as well as the most used – is it from brush machinestowed machines equipped with a rotating brush who physically interact with plants. “There Brush could be height adjusted depending on the vegetation and adapts to any type of terrain “ explains Vaghi.

In addition, this creates a stream of air that sucks even small seeds, ensuring onehigh species richness in the product.

The design characteristics enable the brush machine to work with high collection efficiency

The design characteristics allow the brush machine

to operate with high collection efficiency

(Photo source: NSW, Government of New South Wales, Australia)

The Italian experience

“The first machine used in the projects we followed was purchased in the UK, where it is used in shrubbery and in heathlands.” says Ferrario, but – as Vaghi adds – “during use, we encountered some critical issuesas discharge method. The British model is not designed to unload easily, and as a result, the unloading has had a strong impact on overall working hours..


The unloading of the British machine involves tipping the flower into bags
(Photo source: A. Ferrario)

A Canadian model was used for subsequent projects. “This machine better reflects our needs explains Ferrario – but there are aspects that can be improved, such ashooking to the tractor. It was actually necessary change the frame – designed to be towed by a quad – so it can be coupled to a small tractor“.

In addition, foreign machines are not designed for efficient lifting“adds Vaghi, who emphasizes the importance of machines being that easily lifted to be loaded on wagons or trucks. “There fragmentation for the Italian reasons do of portability -one basic aspect“, adds the expert.

The Canadian machine makes it possible to control the height and speed of the brush

The Canadian machine makes it possible to control the height and speed of the brush
(Photo source: Andrea Ferrario)

The prototype “made in Italy”.

That first Italian prototypedesigned and built in Lombardy thanks to Feasrstems from requests from companies that had previously used imported models and that knew their strengths and weaknesses.

“In light of our experience and desires, we decided to develop a car inspired by the Canadian model, but offer a high degree of adaptationin particular as regards the engine, the dimensions, the clutch system and the materials “ explains Vaghi.

The prototype at work, the fiorum is assembled in a back box with an opening bottom

The prototype at work, the fiorum is assembled in a back box with an opening bottom
(Photo source: Andrea Ferrario)

To better adapt Italian realitywhere dissemination and use of specialized tractors is very high, the prototype, unlike foreign models, can be easily towed by a low-power tractor: they are sufficient 30 horses.

The brush prototype can be towed by a specialized tractor

The brush prototype can be towed by a specialized tractor
(Photo source: Andrea Ferrario)

There maximum width available is approx 10 feet, larger dimensions would result in machines that are too heavy to transport and use. Thanks to modularity of the prototype it is possible to reduce the working widths up to 70-80 cm.

L ‘working height is adjustable from 10-15 centimeters up to a maximum 1 meter and a half. “We have never driven at these heights, but the machine still has to get there to make it easier I unloadcomments Vaghi.

Front of the brushing machine during the harvest phase

Front of the brushing machine during the harvest phase
(Photo source: Andrea Ferrario)

There rigid structurebut at the same time light it makes the prototype light lifted and transported. The flower is collected in a back box with an openable bottom. “We are oriented towards the possibility of making machines where they flexibility and ease of use in the field was the key. The goal is to reduce downtime and low active phases predominantly explains Vaghi.

Preparing the machine for loading and transport

Preparing the machine for loading and transport
(Photo source: Andrea Ferrario)

A look to the future

“A possible development – illustrates Vaghi – is the ability to combine one at the rear cutting beam for haymaking “. This will allow you to collect the well and the mowing in a single turn, which reduces operating costs. “However, – as Ferrario explains – you need to find areas that are prepared to the activity and favors one mentality change of farmers “generally not very interested in the production of fiorume because they do not fully know its benefits.

Self new technologies offer opportunities for innovation: the use of GPS systems to map the characteristics of the terrain when combined with the use of a cutter bar, optimizes the yield reduce the number of steps, pedestrian traffic and working hours.

A growing sector

Only recently, in the light of a greater awareness of advantage ofuse of the flower and one greater awareness on themes of sustainability and environmental impacthas developed on the market one request from below of public and private works fiorum, and – as Ferrario explains – “current production is not able to meet this demand”.

“If in Europe there is a targeted business model (eg in Germany and Austria), in Italy we are in a primordial phase, the part of pure business where the farmer sees an opportunity for financial return explains Vaghi.

There The Italian reality favors the creation of small consortia, where machinery, advice and knowledge can be shared, and where the consortium on the one hand has interfaces with operators and on the other hand with institutions and the market.

“Buying machines from abroad is certainly more immediate, but we have a very strong influence on taxes And transportation costs says Ferrario, who adds, “in Italy i innovation funds, such as RDPs, allows you to work further prototypes and to obtain products that are valid for the market “.

L ‘Goal to reach is to offer not just “stand alone” machines, but – as Vaghi explains – “one service 360 degrees of pre- and after-sales, aimed at optimizing machinery for customer needs “.

“Fiorumet as a niche sector I do not think will get mass development, especially in Italy, but I believe in it an intelligent activity And basic to preserve the flora autoktone“Vaghi concludes.

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