If the site has not been cropped previously, the first operation will probably be to remove brush and trees. After the fields have been surveyed to establish the slope, need for and frequency and position of drainage channels, these channels should be installed so as to effectively capture and remove excess rainfall in a manner that minimizes erosion. If drainage channels discharge into adjacent waterways, the need for permanent drop structures should be evaluated.
Where rock removal is necessary, rocks larger than about 30 cm (1 ft) in diameter should be removed after ploughing or sub-soiling and after final land preparation. Rock removal from stony fields can be expensive and, in some cases, specialized equipment has been developed to mechanize the removal process (Fig. 6.4). These rocks may be used for construction of drop structures or other field construction or, if excessive, they may be left in piles.
In areas where field operations are machine-assisted, planting areas may be laid out in blocks separated by roads. The dimensions of the blocks are designed to accommodate the equipment, while effectively accomplishing the required field operations. Where boom sprayer equipment is to be used, block size is usually twice as wide as the spray boom is long.
Once the basic tillage operations (Fig. 6.5) have been performed, raised planting beds may be formed (Fig. 6.3) if there are known economic advantages. In most cases, pineapple plant growth is enhanced by planting on raised beds due to the increase in the volume of topsoil available to the root system, enhanced aeration and superior drainage. Raised beds may or may not be covered with plastic mulch, usually depending on the need for fumigation. In some cases, where capture of sparse rainfall is important, slightly depressed beds direct limited rainfall or overhead irrigation to the planting line. Despite the advantages of raised beds, they are not used where the cost of preparation exceeds the economic benefit.
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