In this month’s customer focus, Naïo Technologies puts the spotlight on Alexis L., a vegetable farmer from the French village of Vendeuvre-du-Poitou. Alexis recently created his own vegetable farm and uses the Oz agricultural robot to help with the weeding. Between Alexis and Oz, it was love at first sight: Alexis hasn’t stopped praising Oz on social networks ever since they started working together. Today, Alexis is offering us a look into his vegetable farm, which goes by the name of “Les Jardins de Purnaud”. He grows a wide range of vegetables with the help of the moon… and our Oz weeding robot!
The story behind Alexis’ integrated vegetable farm
I started the farm last April, together with my brother. Before that, I used to work on a cereal farm and my brother was a mechanic at the French National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA). We started our own farm because we wanted to be our own boss and grow vegetables, which is something we’ve always enjoyed doing.
Before we started using the Oz agricultural robot, we’d already opted for an integrated farming approach to grow our 35 different varieties of vegetables on 5 ha of land. We plan our crops using moon cycles and grow red beets, carrots, cabbages, celery, green and dried beans, leek, spinach…
We sell our entire crop directly on the farmers’ markets in Poitiers and Châtellerault and are proud to say we haven’t even got enough produce to meet the demand!
Our line of work brings its own set of problems that aren’t very hard to understand: our wide range of varieties requires us to be on top of our game. We have to really know our crops well and be aware of all potential problems for every type of crop, such as their diseases, parasites, insects…
All crops are different and their sensitivity to surrounding weed can range from high to low, which means every crop needs a different approach.
The Oz agricultural robot saved our red beet crops
When we just started out, we didn’t have the necessary weeding and hoeing equipment and it was complicated to find and pay a farm worker. Early June, we attended a Naïo Technologies demo of the Oz agricultural robot. When we saw the amount of work it could get done all by itself, we immediately wanted one!
We’ve been using the Oz robot for 2 months now and it get much more work done than we could have handled ourselves. Weeds can grow really fast and some of our crops got entirely covered in them because we couldn’t keep up. Without Oz, we would have lost entire crops, particularly our red beets: we’ve had a really bad spring and the field got flooded. When the weather got better, the beets and weeds started to grow at the same pace and we only managed to save our beets thanks to the Oz weeding robot.
The Oz robot really helps us out and we can get lots of other things done while it’s working.
A field from The Jardins de Purnaud farm before and after the Oz agricultural robot.
Whatever happens, we’ll find a way to keep Oz!
At the moment, we’re still renting the Oz robot until January. However, the French regional instances and the European government offer agricultural aid programs, which may allow us to finance the purchase of Oz. If that doesn’t work out, we plan to ask for a loan from our bank. Whatever happens, we really want to keep Oz and will find a way to finance it! The robot’s cost is amortized very rapidly and we’re gaining extra human time in the meanwhile. If I had only 3 words to describe Oz, I’d say its greatest qualities are that it’s autonomous, precise and versatile
If we could add an extra feature to the Oz robot, we would like it to sow. That would allow us to sow anytime. Since our farm has a wide range of vegetables, we’re constantly sowing and, because we also use moon cycles in our planning, it’s important to be available at the right moment. A sowing robot would really help us to get the work done at the right time !
Every week, Alexis and his brother can be found at the farmers’ markets of Poitiers and Châtellerault and they also have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/earllesjardinsdepurnaud/