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

Lavern Vogel

Harvesting white asparagus depends greatly on handbook labour, an cost that locations a fiscal strain on farmers. To tackle this, an EU-funded venture has created an automated harvesting device that selectively picks only ripe asparagus and doesn’t hurt the crop. This will save farmers revenue, increases crop top quality and […]

Harvesting white asparagus depends greatly on handbook labour, an cost that locations a fiscal strain on farmers. To tackle this, an EU-funded venture has created an automated harvesting device that selectively picks only ripe asparagus and doesn’t hurt the crop. This will save farmers revenue, increases crop top quality and removes the require for back-breaking function.


© Cerescon 2020

Selective harvesting consists of buying parts of the crop that are ripe, with out damaging parts of the crop that require to be harvested at a later on time or left in the soil. At the minute, this system is only carried out by hand. Usual examples of selectively harvested crops consist of tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, melons, blueberries and raspberries.

“This is also the circumstance for white asparagus,” states SPARTerS venture coordinator Thérèse van Vinken of Cerescon in the Netherlands. “The European market is at the moment value about EUR 800 million a yr, but unfortunately the full industry is under menace. This is partly due to the fact the selection of hand pickers is declining yr by yr, when the price of handbook labour proceeds to rise.”

There are other difficulties related with hand buying. Asparagus spears can in some cases go undetected and be left sticking out of the sand bed for the next harvesting session. This can direct to discolouration and the asparagus acquiring open up heads.

Automatic harvesting answer

To tackle these issues, the EU-funded SPARTerS venture has concentrated on bringing to market a mechanised selective harvesting device. The vital goal of this innovation is to lower asparagus harvesting fees, as perfectly as improving upon the top quality and amount of the crop.

“The answer is centered on a patented underground detection approach,” describes van Vinken. “Sensors detect the asparagus as it grows underground, with out coming into get hold of with it. This means that the crop stays undamaged.”

At this issue, facts on the asparagus is transmitted to a patented self-propelled harvesting robot. The robot picks only the asparagus that is ready to be picked in a person one movement, positioning it on a conveyor. The hole left driving in the sand bed is then repaired, to reduce the next crop from growing curved.

Trials have revealed that utilizing the Sparter device can slash the value of harvesting by 50 percent, in element from discounts on labour fees but also due to the fact the crop is not broken and there is minimal wastage.

“All kinds of facts can be collected from the underground sensors,” provides van Vinken. “This can support guarantee that crop yields are extra predictable.” For case in point, farmers can be built informed of the require for fertilisation or irrigation at a specified time, or in a specified spot of the industry.

Asparagus growers have been instrumental in the growth of Sparter from the starting. “We formed a UserGroup, built up of growers in the Netherlands and Germany,” describes van Vinken. “These farmers delivered comprehensive comments on the growth of this technology and have also been crucial in furnishing us with information on their particular needs, amenities and buying fees.”

Future of farming

Van Vinken thinks that the Sparter innovation signifies the upcoming of asparagus farming, especially in gentle of the coronavirus epidemic. Growers, greatly dependent on handbook labour to are likely their asparagus beds, ended up left in crisis soon after borders ended up shut.

“Selective harvesting in western Europe is generally carried out by temporary staff who appear from overseas,” describes van Vinken. “As many of these staff ended up not able to vacation, farmers ended up not able to are likely their crops. In some cases, in between 70 and 80 % of asparagus beds ended up left unharvested.”

A further issue is that handbook white asparagus harvesting is weighty, bodily and demanding function. Transitioning to automated selective harvesting claims to generate extra competent and far better qualified careers that focus on device procedure and sorting.
Regardless of the issues the sector faces, Europe nevertheless signifies just about a person third of the world’s asparagus market. Van Vinken is self-confident that this stays a worthwhile market that can be developed on and enhanced with the software of technology.
In fact, SPARTerS is definitely top the way – due to the achievements of the EU-funded venture, the venture workforce have also lately received an more EUR three million from private sources to continue on their function.

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