Tag Archives: harvesting

Californian lettuce growers embracing robotic harvesting

One of America’s largest salad producers, California-based Taylor Farms, is increasingly using robotics to tackle the twin challenges of labour availability and increasing costs.

The company, which employs a total of 10,000 people, is using robotic harvesting rigs on some crops of Romaine and baby leaf lettuce and it says that the use of robotics is growing in the entire Californian lettuce industry. Around 95 per cent of the company’s Romaine volume is currently harvested with automated harvesters, and trials are being conducted on a number of other crops.

“Harvesting, one of the more difficult in-field jobs to perform, was a natural area of focus for us,” explains Ted Taylor, Head of New Ventures & Business Development. “Over the last eight years we have designed and built advanced machinery to optimize harvest efficiency and drive improved ergonomics for employees. This has truly been a win-win. We have been able to offer better jobs to our field employees, all while driving bottom line performance. We will continue to aggressively pursue automated harvesting functions for all our core products.”

Photo Credit: Taylor Farms

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Smart cauliflower harvester trialled within a year

Reports from Germany suggest that automatic brassica harvesting, a long held dream for many in the industry, could be one step closer thanks to new work by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF and their colleagues at ai-solution GmbH together with five other partners.

They are working on a smart harvester which it is claimed will be as selective as human pickers. The so-called VitaPanther builds on the ‘Spargelpanther’ asparagus harvesting machine developed by a previous project, with the team aiming to complete a working prototype in time for next year (2017).

Fraunhofer IFF are working on hyper spectral camera technology and programming which will ensure that the machine picks the mature and ripe crops while ai-solution GmbH in Wolfsburg are working on the actual harvester unit.

Christian Bornstein, CEO of ai-solution GmbH, explained, “Our goal is to build a module that can be adapted to the existing unit.” Farmers will only have to purchase one “vegetable harvester” in the future.

Photo Caption: The ‘Spargelpanther’ asparagus harvester.

Photo Credit: ai-solution

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