David Lévêque is a multi-crop organic market gardener working alongside his brother, Alexis Lévêque. Both attracted to the agricultural domain for several years, in April 2016 they decided to launch their own farm together in the heart of the department of Vienne in Vendeuvre-Du-Poitou. And so, Les Jardins de Purnaud were born.
Some months later, they discovered the Oz robot during a Naïo Technologies demonstration organised close to their farm. This was THE great meeting which would mark the beginning of a wonderful collaboration with this versatile little agricultural assistant.
After five years of working as a team with Oz, David Lévêque takes a look back with us on this 2021 season.
Since the beginning of this year, Oz has worked on numerous crops: garlic, onions, parsley, carrots, celeriac, parsnips, turnips, spinach, endives, sweetcorn, sweet potatoes, leeks and green beans. “We also have white cabbage, red cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, Romanesco cauliflower and even Savoy cabbage. They’ve all been hoed using Oz”, David mentions. “Oz has worked over 4-5 hectares in all” he adds.
Owing to weather conditions which significantly affected the farmer’s region during May and June, David hasn’t been able to use Oz as often as he had hoped. Fewer passes have been made by this autonomous little robot, but it has to be noted that around 50% of the weeds on the row have been destroyed against 100% between rows. Since the return of good weather in July, Oz has actively started weeding the crops again, to the market gardener’s greatest pleasure.
On Thursday, 22 July 2021, the day of our interview with David, Oz made the first pass over a plot of cabbage, fitted with curry harrows for working on the rows. Then, fitted with V-shaped ploughshares, it lifted the weeds between the rows. “It’s worked well”, highlights David. “In 3-4 hours, Oz has made two passes over an area of around 1,000 m2.”
David’s aim is to use Oz throughout the year.
“You can use Oz all year round and it will be even more possible once it’s able to sow. In the meantime, I’ll use it mainly from January to September.”
Now working completely autonomously on weeding, both out in the fields and under cover, the market gardener is actively working to fit the agricultural robot with a seed drill. “I’m currently making a small hitch to which I can attach the Ebra seed drill I own. I’m making my own system”, he underlines. In the end, he’ll be able to use Oz for sowing seed, an extra string to its bow which will relieve the farmer of this repetitive task.
For harvesting, David is getting on with doing this on his own. “Oz can’t be everywhere”, David laughs. While it’s hoeing, I’m harvesting our vegetables ready for sale in the local markets”.
During the last five years, Oz has never ceased being David’s faithful companion and he could literally not do without it now.
Let’s finish this account on a good note: “It really is a very good complementary tool. I work in a team with it. It does its work and during that time, I can do something else” finishes David Lévêque, a multi-crop organic market gardener at Les Jardins de Purnaud.
Would you like to meet David and Alexis Lévêque? Don’t hesitate to go and see them and buy their many organic vegetables directly from the markets in Poitiers Notre-Dame, Châtellerault Les Halles or Neuville du Poitou.
Naïo & co
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