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

Harvesting white asparagus relies greatly on handbook labour, an price that areas a economic pressure on farmers. To deal with this, an EU-funded venture has made an automatic harvesting resource that selectively picks only ripe asparagus and doesn’t harm the crop. This will save farmers income, increases crop excellent and eliminates the want for back again-breaking operate.


© Cerescon 2020

Selective harvesting requires selecting areas of the crop that are ripe, without detrimental areas of the crop that want to be harvested at a later on time or left in the soil. At the minute, this approach is only carried out by hand. Standard illustrations of selectively harvested crops incorporate tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, melons, blueberries and raspberries.

“This is also the situation for white asparagus,” states SPARTerS venture coordinator Thérèse van Vinken of Cerescon in the Netherlands. “The European market place is now really worth about EUR 800 million a 12 months, but however the complete industry is below danger. This is partly mainly because the variety of hand pickers is declining 12 months by 12 months, while the rate of handbook labour carries on to rise.”

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

Automatic harvesting alternative

To deal with these troubles, the EU-funded SPARTerS venture has focused on bringing to market place a mechanised selective harvesting machine. The key aim of this innovation is to reduce asparagus harvesting charges, as nicely as bettering the excellent and amount of the crop.

“The alternative is primarily based on a patented underground detection process,” clarifies van Vinken. “Sensors detect the asparagus as it grows underground, without coming into make contact with with it. This implies that the crop continues to be undamaged.”

At this stage, facts on the asparagus is transmitted to a patented self-propelled harvesting robot. The robot picks only the asparagus that is prepared to be picked in a single single movement, putting it on a conveyor. The hole left powering in the sand mattress is then fixed, to avoid the up coming crop from expanding curved.

Trials have revealed that working with the Sparter machine can lower the value of harvesting by 50 percent, in aspect from cost savings on labour charges but also mainly because the crop is not harmed and there is very little wastage.

“All varieties of facts can be gathered from the underground sensors,” adds van Vinken. “This can help be certain that crop yields are a lot more predictable.” For illustration, farmers can be made knowledgeable of the want for fertilisation or irrigation at a specific time, or in a specific place of the subject.

Asparagus growers have been instrumental in the development of Sparter from the commencing. “We shaped a UserGroup, made up of growers in the Netherlands and Germany,” clarifies van Vinken. “These farmers supplied intensive opinions on the development of this technological know-how and have also been critical in supplying us with data on their specific prerequisites, facilities and selecting charges.”

Upcoming of farming

Van Vinken believes that the Sparter innovation represents the long run of asparagus farming, particularly in light-weight of the coronavirus epidemic. Growers, greatly dependent on handbook labour to are inclined their asparagus beds, had been left in disaster soon after borders had been shut.

“Selective harvesting in western Europe is ordinarily carried out by non permanent employees who come from abroad,” clarifies van Vinken. “As several of these employees had been unable to journey, farmers had been unable to are inclined their crops. In some circumstances, concerning 70 and eighty % of asparagus beds had been left unharvested.”

A further stage is that handbook white asparagus harvesting is hefty, physical and demanding operate. Transitioning to automatic selective harvesting claims to create a lot more qualified and much better experienced work that concentration on machine procedure and sorting.
Inspite of the troubles the sector faces, Europe nonetheless represents virtually a single third of the world’s asparagus market place. Van Vinken is assured that this continues to be a lucrative market place that can be crafted upon and improved with the application of technological know-how.
In fact, SPARTerS is surely leading the way – because of to the results of the EU-funded venture, the venture group have also lately received an supplemental EUR three million from private resources to keep on their operate.