Especially for crops such as olive trees, vines and, more generally, orchards, the rational and effective management of pruning residues is a very important operation both environmentally and economically.

This is because pruning, an essential agro-technique for maximizing the productive potential of tree plants, generates a significant amount of waste plant material that can range from 20 to 40 quintals per hectare in mature vineyards or olive groves. These residues, if not properly managed, can become bulky and problematic.


The temptation to eliminate this material with fire is often very strong. However, this is a practice that must be limited for two fundamental reasons:

  • Soil impact. Burning causes the rapid mineralization of organic matter, preventing the formation of humus, which is essential for soil fertility.
  • Air quality. Combustion can significantly degrade air quality, especially when residues are accumulated in large quantities.

It should be noted that the burning of pruning residues is permitted by regulations as long as it takes place on-site and in small piles. Furthermore, each region or municipality can intervene by limiting or modifying - even temporarily - the methods of pruning waste disposal.

From this, we can see that chopping pruning residues represents not only a more sustainable solution but also a more effective one compared to elimination through combustion.

In this article, we will delve deeper into this practice, analyzing its numerous advantages and benefits for the soil. Let's get started!

Chopping in the field: why it’s the best choice

From an agronomic point of view, chopping pruning residues is the optimal solution for managing these materials in the field.

This method allows for high-speed work, with no limitations related to row lengths, and completes the process in a single operation, making the entire procedure extremely efficient.

However, the most significant benefit of chopping lies in its ability to enrich the soil. This practice returns about 25% of the annual organic matter requirement to the soil, significantly improving soil structure.

Continuous removal of organic matter, on the other hand, can lead to progressive soil depletion, a problem that cannot be completely solved with fertilization alone and requires a significant increase in costs.

Experimental studies also confirm the advantages of chopping.

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For instance, 23 to 24 quintals per hectare of pruning residues can turn into 4-8 quintals of humus per hectare. Additionally, chopping provides significant amounts of mineral elements to the soil, covering 10-30% of the annual macroelement requirement and 30-50% of the microelement requirement.

These essential contributions support soil fertility and promote greater sustainability in agricultural practices.

How to make the best chopping pruning residues?

After completing pruning operations, it is crucial to remove the larger branches, which can be used as firewood, to prepare the fields for chopping the residues.

During chopping, ensure that the shredder machine finely chops and fibers the woody material as accurately as possible, just like Forigo shredders. This promotes rapid degradation of the material by the soil's microflora once it is buried.

To further accelerate the degradation process, there are commercially available products specifically formulated to be distributed on the soil before mechanical intervention, introducing microorganisms that facilitate material decomposition.

A natural alternative is the use of high-quality manure, which produces a similar effect.


We have seen how chopping pruning residues is a beneficial agronomic practice because it reintroduces organic matter into the soil.

However, attention must be paid to small precautions, especially in soils where parasitic wood fungi, such as canker agents or silver leaf disease, have settled.

In such cases, woody residues can increase the inoculum potential of these pathogens, serving as nourishment for them in the soil.

Given this small precaution, the practice of chopping, when carried out correctly and with a quality shredder, not only contributes to soil fertility but also helps maintain a more sustainable environment by avoiding less ecological methods such as residue burning.

Do you have any questions about the topic just covered, or would you like more information about Forigo solutions? Contact us: our team will be happy to answer all your inquiries.

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Agrotti Michele

Written by Agrotti Michele

Graduated in Agricultural Sciences and Technologies at the University of Padua, in Forigo Roteritalia he is involved in training and consulting for Italy and foreign Countries.

Forigo ® Roteritalia srl
Via Brennero Nord, 9
456035 Ostigila
Mantova - Italy


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