US: Radar aids cranberry growers in process of counting

When people think of cranberries, they often think of flooded bogs with millions of floating berries. However, most of the year the bog is dry and the cranberries cling to a dense tangle of low-growing vines. That’s when the growers start counting their cranberries.

Ben Tilberg, a Wisconsin-based scientist with the grower-owned cooperative Ocean Spray Cranberries explains: “When we do crop estimations, we pick the fruit in a square-foot area and then hand-count the berries. There might be anywhere from 300 to 500 berries per square foot, and we count hundreds of squares each crop year.”

This is however a time-consuming and laborious endeavour. The sheer labour involved prompted Tilberg to pursue a more efficient, technologically advanced method. The result is a new device that essentially automates the counting process -without having to pick any berries, and with the potential to paint a more accurate picture of the crop and the harvest as a whole.

According to a article, Tilberg and his fellow researchers got enough funding to develop a microwave-based cranberry sensing technique. The first-generation prototype, a small box-shaped device, to be suspended above a square-foot section of cranberry bed, draws on technology similar to that used in medical imaging and weather radar.

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