Hi, I’m Johannes Storch. I am a vegetable grower at an organic vegetable farm in Dickendorf. From the beginning it was my dream to cover the soil. That means to work with mulch and to cover the soil permanently and thus to increase soil fertility. In this video I would like to explain how direct mulch planting works and how to use the planting technique, the Mulchtec Planter, which we have developed. Planting vegetables in mulch using the Mulchtec-Planter How it works The main part of the machine is a cutting unit. This is the front part here. These cutters cut the mulch and make a slot so that a planting technique can follow the slot. It is opened slightly, the planting depth is determined by the coulter, the seedling is placed. The rollers close the mulch layer again like a zip. This way we place the plants in a closed mulch layer. Here you can see the heart of the machine more clearly: Here is the cutting unit. It is composed of two components: First there is the protective coulter here. And then there is the cutter wheel. The protection coulter is up to here in the soil. You can also see it through the abrasion here. Then comes the mulch layer. The mulch layer is fed to the cutter wheel. The knife wheel cuts through the mulch from bottom to top in the opposite direction to the direction of driving. The knives rotate freely, just like a disc mower, so that they can avoid hard objects such as stones, etc. Soil preparation We work the soil in autumn when it is still dry and warm. Then we prepare the seedbed and prepare the beds in autumn. We sow a catch crop: usually a mixture of triticale or rye, with vetch and pea. The roots of this catch crop stabilize the mechanical soil preparation and create an optimal soil structure. So we can plant in the following year, in spring, without tillage. With the flail mulcher we cut down the catch crop and spread a little “transfer mulch” over the surface to prevent the catch crop from regrowing. Then the seedlings are planted using the “Mulchtec Planter“ with the planting technique developed by us. Starter fertilization In addition, we now have a fertilizer tank here. This enables fertilization during planting so that youth development of the plant proceeds optimally. Because the mulch mineralises slowly. Challenges Root weeds you need to have under control preventively as they are not suppressed by a mulch layer. And what about slugs? I can say that snails were not a real problem in the mulching system. I explain this by the fact that when you open the mulch layer, there is so much life in the soil that individual organisms are kept under control. There are, for example, ground beetles that eat slug eggs. But where you have to pay attention is: If the catch crop already has many snails and if you don’t cut the catch crop with the mulcher but maybe mow it, then you don’t decimate the snails. And then they can become a problem. Cultures that work particularly well are all cabbage varieties, celery, leek, courgette, pumpkin. Models and prize The machine is now here in two rows. We build this machine up to six rows. The machine, as it stands here without the fertiliser box, will cost around 18,000 euros.