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Create the perfect water balance with automated controls

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Sep-16 Wed 08:25

During Wageningen University’s Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge team AuTomatoes applied the principles of Plant Empowerment in their winning AI strategy. Thus, the team’s strategy was focused on the plant and it’s balances, in order to create a balanced and empowered crop. So how did they do this? This article explains all about the water balance and how team AuTomatoes kept it in balance at all times.

The water balance is the balance between the input to and output of water from the plants. Output of water is mainly caused by evaporation. Only a little portion of the total water uptake is stored in the plant and the fruits. Plants need to evaporate and thus take up water from the root zone for three reasons: the uptake of nutrients, for growth, and for cooling. In order to keep the water balance in balance, the uptake of water from the root zone must equal at least the evaporation rate. Thus, to ensure sufficient water availability, irrigation needs to be aligned with the plant’s evaporation rate.

Various algorithms were developed to support the tomato crop’s water balance in order to optimize the tomato yields. For example, some of these algorithms made use of a plant temperature sensor and pyrgeo sensor to calculate the net radiation on plant level. Based on this calculation the algorithms decided on the optimal screen position for the crop to receive the right amount of radiation to keep a steady evaporation rate.

Autonomous germination rate and vitality measurements

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Sep-10 Thu 10:25

Germination rate and vitality are important factors for determining the quality of seed batches. To this day, the measurement process is hardly automated, and therefore labor intense, expensive, and prone to errors. These errors can lead to costly claims for seed breeders or young plant growers when…

Nexus Robotics advances its automated weeding technology

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Sep-09 Wed 11:10

Funding will help commercialize technology that addresses major challenges faced by farmers

September 9, 2020 - Halifax, Nova Scotia – Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)

Agriculture is one of Atlantic Canada’s biggest exports and sources of economic activity; however, today’s farmers face significant challenges getting their products to market. Labour shortages, pesticides and global warming have all changed the way agricultural products are grown, harvested and distributed to consumers. To help facilitate the search for better solutions, the Government of Canada is supporting businesses that are finding creative ways for farmers to more easily grow and harvest their crops.

Processing lines for the agricultural and food sectors

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Sep-04 Fri 08:13

'Thanks to our extensive experience, we manufacture equipment for the agricultural and food, retail, industrial and commercial sectors looking for weighing, dosing, packaging, storing solutions etc. Our markets of reference are mainly Europe, central and southern America and north Africa,' reports Santo…

Automated irrigation techniques

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Sep-03 Thu 09:28

Jeff Neff, Senior Applications Technician at Argus Controls, discusses  irrigation techniques and automation, including considerations that can be important when deciding which system to choose advantages of automating this process, as well as key considerations for implementing automated irrigation by using irrigation solutions…

Rapidly destemming cherry tomatoes

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Sep-03 Thu 09:28

Convenience fruit sales have risen considerably in recent years. Mixed fruit salads containing grapes are very popular in supermarkets all over the world. Small wonder, then, that the Destemmer is one of the Dutch company, ZTI's, international best-selling machines. It's well-know that it destems grapes…

Crux Agribotics develops SortiPack for sweet pointed peppers

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Sep-03 Thu 09:26

Crux Agribotics expands its SortiPack product portfolio by developing a Grading, Sorting and Packing application for sweet pointed pepper. Sweet pointed peppers are becoming more popular. Mainly due to taste and health value, the consumption by consumers is increasing. Sweet pointed peppers are available…

Multi-functional cutting machine satisfies Chinese market demand for sliced fruits and vegetables

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Sep-02 Wed 11:15

Consumers have been paying even more attention to food safety since the outbreak of Covid-19. At the same time, there is also a growing demand for sliced fruits and vegetables. The cutting up of fruits and vegetables is an important step in the processing of fruits and vegetables. This step is not just…

Newtec ups automated grading equipment for potatoes and carrots

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Sep-02 Wed 11:15

Around the world, countless potato and carrot producers have are choosing for optical sorting equipment for their packhouses. This enables them to ensure consistent quality output and provides the opportunity to optimise an entire crop’s value. One brand at the forefront of this technology is Newtec, an…

'Cameras and lasers complement each other in the optical sorting'

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Sep-02 Wed 11:13

Optimum Sorting was founded in 2017. That makes this Dutch company the newest player on the market. “First and foremost, we want our company to build a technological lead,” says Steve. “First, with the new sorting platform, the Cloudsorter. Then with the introduction of a multispectral higher resolution…

'Accurate to less than a millimeter'

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Sep-01 Tue 09:13

Martin Bourgondiën, as Commtrad machines’ owner, sells Select machinery to fruit and vegetable companies.  close-up of the 6-legged finger rotor on the Arcus The client Martin just visited has a new Select Arcus optical sorter. It replaced the 16-year-old Agroselector that was standing in the company’s peeling…

'More options for sorting potatoes'

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Aug-28 Fri 09:22

Many optical sorting machines work by discarding subpar material or foreign matter from a batch of potatoes. But some sorters check products’ quality. “It’s a matter of good, bad, or repeel,” says Sjors Vullings of Marcelissen. “We've had a sorter on the market for almost a year. It can, however, do so…

World’s largest agri robot tested in the US

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Aug-27 Thu 09:28

Experts from British research institute Rothamsted Research are currently testing the latest in artificial intelligence for farming. It is the world’s largest agricultural robot, the Field Scanalyzer. This international research centre focuses on strategic agricultural science, and trials on the Field…

Vegetables can be personalised by machines

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Aug-27 Thu 09:27

Broccoli, 3D-printed into unusual shapes to tempt a picky toddler. Beef stew, produced in the same way to make it easy to swallow for an elderly relative. Pork and potatoes, also rendered by a machine for a patient with oral cancer who can’t chew. Advances in 3D-printing mean printed food is becoming…

'It impressed everyone how quickly we integrated the Burg portal unloader at our bell pepper packaging site'

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Aug-27 Thu 09:22

This bell pepper season, the Dutch company, PapriCo, is working with a new portal unloader. It's the first time they're using this machine from Burg Machinery. PapriCo growers are members of the DOOR cooperative. They deliver bulk bell peppers to a packaging site in the Netherlands. It belongs to this…

Considerations when automating your horticultural facility

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Aug-26 Wed 11:04

In a constant search for achieving more efficient processes, automated environmental controls have proven to be key for horticultural facilities as they help deliver a more consistent product, reduce costs, as well as meet production goals and desired quality of the product. Alex Fermon, Product…

Amazon Plans to Make Whole Foods' Human Cashiers Obsolete

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Aug-25 Tue 09:15

Amazon executive Jeff Wilke, a 20-year veteran of the company, plans to retire next year, but not before completing one of his major projects — eliminating human cashiers at Whole Foods locations across the country.

Optical sorting gives precise results and saves costs

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Aug-24 Mon 09:41

“In some sectors - onions, apples, oranges, etc. - optical sorting has already been successfully established,” says Mitchel Bakker of Ellips. This Dutch company focuses on assessment technology. “It’s only with potatoes that that’s been more difficult. That’s because potatoes are never uniform in size.…

Autonomous greenhouse forum

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Aug-19 Wed 10:22

Autonomous greenhouse is an application of artificial intelligence (AI) in CEA, which will become critical for the future development of CEA technologies, including applications to low and high tech CEA.  Please sign up if would like to join the conversation. This will be the first step to build a community to identify R&D needs…

'Robotic arm is the first step towards automated pruning'

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Aug-14 Fri 13:57

The first robotic cutting mechanism, or “end effector,” for a fully automated, computerized pruning system for modern apple orchards has been designed by a Penn State research team. This might be an early step in the creation of a technology aimed at easing challenges facing tree fruit growers.…

Vinergy seeks to cut harvest costs of grapes, other crops

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Aug-11 Tue 12:32

A California startup, Vinergy Inc., has equipment it says will improve vineyard efficiency by reducing a labor-intensive part of harvest — transporting grapes to the end of rows.

With the rechargeable Vinergy Cart and Vinergy Wheelbarrow, the Bakersfield, Calif., company promises to increase the amount of grapes that can be harvested by saving up two hours of labor for each team of pickers every day, according to a news release.

According to Vinergy, a standard 8-person crew can harvest about six boxes of table grapes an hour, at a labor cost of $4.33 a box over the course of a day. The Vinergy Cart can hold 16 boxes, increasing yield with a labor cost increase of 12.5%, but a real-world reduction of per-box labor costs that range from $1 to $2.30, according to the release.

“When we were picking significant volume we saw a tremendous cost savings during our trials with multiple crews and packing variations,” Rope Eddy, ranch manager for Bakersfield, Calif.-based Anthony Vineyards, said in the release. “Crews that were using traditional wheelbarrows were asking when they could begin using the Vinergy carts.  We are excited to begin working with the Vinergy team as we prepare for next season and scale more carts across our crews.”

US: Automation, flexibility trending in end-of-processing-line packaging

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Aug-10 Mon 06:31

Increasing customer demands coupled with the need for automation and labor reduction make end-of-line packaging a key area for food producers. Produceprocessing recently checked in with representatives from three companies with expertise in this area. They include Wayne DeCou, Volm’s sales director of…

Waymo is designing a self-driving Ram delivery van with FCA

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Jul-22 Wed 10:12

Waymo and Fiat Chrysler Automotive are extending their four-year-old partnership to include commercial vans. On Wednesday, the companies announced a plan to jointly develop an autonomous delivery van based on FCA’s Ram ProMaster.

Waymo, the self-driving division of Google parent Alphabet, announced back in 2016 that FCA would be its first OEM (original equipment manufacturer) partner. Since then, the two companies have worked together to retrofit a fleet of hundreds of Chrysler Pacifica minivans with Waymo’s self-driving hardware and software. Now, the companies will work together on a new project — an autonomous delivery van — in the service of Waymo’s nascent delivery service, Waymo Via.

Moreover, FCA has chosen Waymo as its...

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Fruit picking robots and vertical farming receive government funding

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Jul-21 Tue 09:15

A fruit picking robot scheme led by Saga Robotics in Lincoln will receive nearly £2.5 million as part of a new UK government funding initiative to drive efficiency in food production. The ‘Robot Highways’ project aims to act as a catalyst for a sustainable farming industry in the future by maintaining or…

Amazon expands its robot delivery trials to more states

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Jul-21 Tue 09:14

Amazon unveiled its six-wheel delivery robot, Scout, in January 2019, but has only been slowly expanding its field tests. After launching in a single neighborhood in Snohomish County, Washington and then adding a larger site in Irvine, California last August, Scout is now undergoing trials in Atlanta, Georgia and Franklin, Tennessee, Amazon announced today.

'Space and budget constraints result in a need to be inventive with machine solutions'

Submitted by Andrew Simard on 2020-Jul-20 Mon 09:27

More and more companies are trying to diversify their product lines in order to be able to adapt to changes in the market. In an increasingly globalized and everchanging fruit and vegetable sector growers, packhouses and processors are looking for flexibility for their daily operations. ProEx Food LLC.…

Automated shuttle car optimizes packhouse flow

Submitted by Andrew Simard on 2020-Jul-20 Mon 09:26

Many packhouses are looking to reduce the amount of forklifts operating on the floor and for that reason Somerset West-based Gossamer Packaging Machinery have designed an automated shuttle car for the circulation of empty and full pallets or bins without the use of pallet jacks or forklifts. The shuttle…

Custom engineered, automated greenhouses: now also for food cultivation

Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Jul-17 Fri 08:15

“We get calls everyday now, from people looking for greenhouses to grow their own food or to form cooperations with neighbours,” says Erick Recors with Fullbloom Greenhouse. Horticulture is a blooming market in the US at the moment. The country tries to source food as locally as possible, especially…