Hand Digging VS Tree Spade: which one gives the best results in terms of quality and time?

We decided to deal with the hand digging matter; it is efficient to hand dig small clods in nursery? Are tree spades really useful only on big clods?

hand digging vs tree spade

We were in Tuscany, with our guest and friend Mr. Leonida Cocchi, at one of his nurseries; we thank him for helping us dealing with this matter. All around the world tree spades are seen as tools to be used just for huge clods, especially by not experts. That’s because tree spades costs, while laborers has a short-term lesser cost. So, smaller clods it is thought to be wiser to produce them by hand digging. The time, the quality and the labourer cost that You’ll have to pay in one year it justify entirely the tree spade’s cost.

In this video, made with just a smartphone, we’ll see “cupressus sempervirens pyramidalis”, better known in Italy as Tuscan cypress, famous for being resistant to the cypress cancer. It is 13 minutes but if You’re looking for a tree spade, they will be well spent.

This video it is not a scientific study with ratios on clods produced and cost per hour; it is just plain that using a tree spades is better. Especially if one tree spade can produce different clods just changing the spade’s set; in this scenario we have a Mac Bert B350 mounting a very small spade’s set (27 cm upper diameter) working without the lateral lances. It usually mounts the 45 cm spade’s set working with “Pinus Pinea” in Leonida’s nurseries, but we can see that having it around can improve other works “thought” to be hand works.

Manual work sound cool, but how much does it cost compared to an automated one?

Specialized workers do an almost perfect job, but probably you’ll have to change them over time, expecially where they are easily find. You’ll have to start again the teachings to always obtain a perfetc clod and often they’ll be just in average. Hand digging take a lot of time for each clod, costing such an effort every single clod.

An automated work is not perfect, of course, but could be and will standarize the clods, increasing the survival rate and uniforming the plant’s vegetative growth. An automated work has to be compared to the work of an experienced worker. As he is able to “understand” the clod’s adjustments needed for every plant, the automated one, done with experience, can produce the same adjustments.

The result has to be compared starting from the same experience’s level: as any change it seems not so useful compared to de old, rodated way.

In many countries such as our, Italy, hand workers are getting always more difficult to find. Every year more peolpe doesn’t want to earn money just for their hand’s work because they’re more valuable. Mechanisation and specialization are two tied issues, one feeds the other one.

Once, a long time customer and friend of our said to Mr. Antonio, our CEO: “Thank you Antonio, you’ve spared my son from being a shovel-slave”. In Italy family businesses are very common: mechanization is the answer for the long run.

So, are you going to fire Your workers due to mechanization?

No, your going to make them deal with the increase amount of plants uprooted. You’ll have to sell more plants or you’ll finish quicker the uprooting season producing the same plant’s amount. An experienced worker behind a tree spade has to be followed by many workers. They will put in place the plants, cloth them or pot them, as it can be seen in the photo below!

tree spade excavator kobelco pinus pinea clod

Even the smallest tree spade will need an extra pair of eyes; a newer tree spade’s worker, especially, will need someone that help dealing with the plant, centering it. The view point is critical for a good and RAPID work; can it be improved?
A camera system can help a lot, but experience, like in everything, does the better work!

So, in the end, a tree spade really change a nursery’s efficiency and production.

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