Automated asparagus harvesting cuts… – Information Centre – Research & Innovation

Harvesting white asparagus relies closely on manual labour, an price that places a money strain…

Harvesting white asparagus relies closely on manual labour, an price that places a money strain on farmers. To address this, an EU-funded venture has designed an automated harvesting device that selectively picks only ripe asparagus and doesn’t damage the crop. This will save farmers income, enhances crop high quality and removes the want for back again-breaking function.


Image

© Cerescon 2020

Selective harvesting requires choosing areas of the crop that are ripe, with no damaging areas of the crop that want to be harvested at a later time or still left in the soil. At the moment, this procedure is only carried out by hand. Usual examples of selectively harvested crops contain tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, melons, blueberries and raspberries.

“This is also the situation for white asparagus,” says SPARTerS venture coordinator Thérèse van Vinken of Cerescon in the Netherlands. “The European market place is at present truly worth about EUR 800 million a calendar year, but unfortunately the overall field is less than risk. This is partly because the number of hand pickers is declining calendar year by calendar year, when the price tag of manual labour proceeds to increase.”

There are other troubles linked with hand choosing. Asparagus spears can sometimes go undetected and be still left sticking out of the sand mattress for the up coming harvesting session. This can lead to discolouration and the asparagus developing open heads.

Automated harvesting answer

To address these difficulties, the EU-funded SPARTerS venture has concentrated on bringing to market place a mechanised selective harvesting equipment. The essential purpose of this innovation is to reduce asparagus harvesting charges, as well as bettering the high quality and amount of the crop.

“The answer is based on a patented underground detection system,” clarifies van Vinken. “Sensors detect the asparagus as it grows underground, with no coming into make contact with with it. This suggests that the crop stays undamaged.”

At this level, facts on the asparagus is transmitted to a patented self-propelled harvesting robotic. The robotic picks only the asparagus that is completely ready to be picked in a person solitary motion, positioning it on a conveyor. The hole still left powering in the sand mattress is then repaired, to prevent the up coming crop from expanding curved.

Trials have revealed that working with the Sparter equipment can reduce the charge of harvesting by 50 %, in aspect from cost savings on labour charges but also because the crop is not destroyed and there is tiny wastage.

“All kinds of facts can be collected from the underground sensors,” provides van Vinken. “This can assistance be certain that crop yields are much more predictable.” For example, farmers can be made mindful of the want for fertilisation or irrigation at a specific time, or in a specific place of the area.

Asparagus growers have been instrumental in the growth of Sparter from the starting. “We formed a UserGroup, made up of growers in the Netherlands and Germany,” clarifies van Vinken. “These farmers delivered intensive opinions on the growth of this technological innovation and have also been crucial in supplying us with information and facts on their distinct needs, amenities and choosing charges.”

Long term of farming

Van Vinken thinks that the Sparter innovation represents the potential of asparagus farming, in particular in light-weight of the coronavirus epidemic. Growers, closely dependent on manual labour to are inclined their asparagus beds, were being still left in disaster after borders were being shut.

“Selective harvesting in western Europe is typically carried out by non permanent workers who arrive from abroad,” clarifies van Vinken. “As several of these workers were being unable to journey, farmers were being unable to are inclined their crops. In some scenarios, in between 70 and 80 % of asparagus beds were being still left unharvested.”

Yet another level is that manual white asparagus harvesting is heavy, physical and demanding function. Transitioning to automated selective harvesting guarantees to develop much more skilled and greater skilled work that aim on equipment procedure and sorting.
Even with the difficulties the sector faces, Europe nonetheless represents almost a person 3rd of the world’s asparagus market place. Van Vinken is assured that this stays a beneficial market place that can be built upon and improved with the software of technological innovation.
Indeed, SPARTerS is undoubtedly top the way – thanks to the success of the EU-funded venture, the venture group have also lately acquired an supplemental EUR three million from private resources to go on their function.