Authors: Fumiomi Takeda, Wei Q. Yang, Changying Li, Andris Freivalds, Kiseok Sung, Rui Xu, Bo Hu, Jeffrey Williamson and Steven Sargen
 
Journal Title: Agronomy
 
ISSN: 2073-4395 (Online)
 
Publisher: MDPI AG
 
Abstract
 
The growth of the blueberry industry in the past three decades has been remarkably robust. However, a labor shortage for hand harvesting, increasingly higher labor costs, and low harvest efficiencies are becoming bottlenecks for sustainable development of the fresh market blueberry production. In this study, we evaluated semi-mechanical harvesting systems consisting of a harvest-aid platform with soft fruit catching surfaces that collected the fruit detached by portable, hand-held, pneumatic shakers. The softer fruit catching surfaces were not glued to the hard sub-surfaces of the harvest-aid platform, but suspended over them. Also, the ergonomic aspect of operating powered harvesting equipment was determined. The pneumatic shakers removed 3.5 to 15 times more fruit (g/min) than by hand. Soft fruit catching surfaces reduced impact force and bruise damage. Fruit firmness was higher in fruit harvested by hand compared to that by pneumatic shakers in some cultivars. The bruise area was less than 8% in fruit harvested by hand and with semi-mechanical harvesting system. The percentage of blue, packable fruit harvested by pneumatic shakers comprised as much as 90% of the total, but less than that of hand-harvested fruit.
 
The ergonomic analysis by electromyography showed that muscle strain in the back, shoulders, and forearms was low in workers operating the light-weight, pneumatic shakers that were tethered to the platform with a tool balancer. The new harvesting method can reduce the labor requirement to about 100 hour/hectare/year and help to mitigate the rising labor cost and shortage of workers for harvesting fresh-market quality blueberries.
 
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
 

Photo: Harvesting blueberries with a semi-mechanical harvest-assist system consisting of hand-held pneumatic shakers to detach fruit and platforms to collect detached fruit. The frame is manually pulled/pushed over plants and the fruit catching platforms are pulled out while positioning the frame over the plants to be harvested and pushed towards each other to seal around the base of blueberry plants. Shown here are two workers harvesting blueberries with hand-held shakers. The yellow hoses carry pressurized air from a compressor to shakers. Yellow fruit lugs are positioned below the catching surface. The inclined catching surface diverted detached fruit into lugs. (credits: Fumiomi Takeda, Wei Q. Yang, Changying Li, Andris Freivalds, Kiseok Sung, Rui Xu, Bo Hu, Jeffrey Williamson and Steven Sargen)

Read more

Comments

No comments to display.

Related posts

Increasing investment in Australian AgTech pivotal to our economic success: report

A new report released today by the United States Studies Centre – the first of its kind –analyses the volume, value, and makeup of AgTech investment in Australia.

EU-funded scientists developed adaptable ground and aerial robots that can transform farming

Utilising the data delivered from the UAV, the UGV prototype, called Bonirob, autonomously navigates its environment and performs actions at set locations. For example, it can spray a pesticide onto a selected crop area, and in the case of weed presence, it can get rid of them mechanically, avoiding the use of dangerous herbicides.

Call for Applications: The Tech Startups Challenge for women inclusion in Africa

To promote entrepreneurial initiatives managed by women and/or men, tackling the challenges of women's inclusion and gender inequalities – whether social, economic, cultural or political – and leveraging digital innovation for their development.
Application Deadline in a month

Call for Applications: Travel tech start-ups in Europe

The Call TRAVEL-TECH INNOVATION CONTEST 2018 is looking for incorporated companies, operating (mainly, but not exclusively) in the field of Travel-Tech with expertise in INCOMING / INTEGRATION OF TRAVEL MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS with SPECIFIC EXPERIENCE IN BOOKING and API DESIGN/IMPLEMENTATION with an idea, a project and/or in any case able to help us to RENEW the process of interfacing Zani Viaggi’s booking with the different players of the national and international market to allow real-time bookings of the experiences in the portfolio in view of the specific administrative and tax requirements that the different domestic tax systems entail.
Application Deadline in 15 days

Tierion: Utilizing the Bitcoin Blockchain to Verify Documents

The Tierion’s development includes contributions from developers across the globe. The platforms code is open-source, and the development team invites programmers to help improve the coding.

SET Award 2019: Call for applications for top innovators in the energy transition

The SET initiative invites start-ups around the world to present their business ideas.
Application Deadline in 3 months

EU's Call for Proposals: ERANETs in agri-food

The agri-food sector needs to take more advantage of the potential of digital technologies. Relevant technologies may include Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data technologies, remote and localised sensing.
Application Deadline in 3 months

EU's Call for Proposals: Integrated storage systems for residential buildings

The combination of renewable energy with storage is key to support the next generation of very low or plus energy houses. Such storage equipment will be exploited first and mostly in the residential buildings (existing and new ones).
Application Deadline in 4 months

3D visualization of GIS data in coconut plantation management: challenges and opportunities

The aim of this paper is to reveal the existing challenges and find opportunities of online 3D visualization of GIS data in coconut plantation management.

Construction of an in-situ smart device that measures some basic environmental factors for agricultural monitoring

In this work, a portable and user friendly smart Automated Weather Station (AWS) was constructed. The device that is programmed with Arduino UNO is capable of measuring the temperature, relative humidity and moisture content of the soil.