Orchard robot on trial in Erichem

The high point of the Open Day at the Fruitkenniscentrum in Randwijk last Thursday was the European premier of the Orchard Robot. This self managing tractor was demonstrated with an automatic spraying installation in front of almost 400 interested fruit growers, advisers, buyers and suppliers from at home and abroad.

The unmanned tractor and sensor controlled spray is full of electronics and is able to spray a plot all by itself. A Teach & Playback navigation system was used for programming the tractor, during which the route and what was to be done had to be done by a human driver first. The navigation computers stores all the information after which the tractor can do the route itself.

It is the combination of autonomous tractor and automatic spray that make it a win-win situation. First of all the unmanned tractor means a 30% lower labour cost. Secondly a precision spray means 25% less spraying liquid is needed. This results not only in less costs, but also in a healthier plant and environment.

The prototype of the tractor and spray were developed in a public-private collaboration between KWH Holland, Probotig, Abemec and Wageningen UR. The project was financed by Productschap Tuinbouw and the EU through the project PURE.


Fertilisation and pear leaf flea
The results of various other running tests were also handled at this Open Day. It turns out that there is a link between nitrogen fertiliser and pear leaf fleas. Growers can limit the damage caused by these fleas through fertilisation. It was also shown that a higher level of phosphate in trees is important for the storage quality and colour of pears. Other items on the agenda were developments in the area of new varieties, new diluents, mechanical trimming and various Elstar mutations.




Source: Omroep Gelderland

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