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Robot counter helps growers keep track of apples

The Washington Tractor company is introducing a new technology into the Yakima Valley that can count and size apples on a tree. Laurence Dingle is the owner of Intelligent Fruit Vision, a company in England that developed a system with growers to make production easier in the fields.

"The support that we got from growers has helped us develop the whole solution," Dingle said. "It's not developed by scientists, it's developed by growers in conjunction with the way that we're working."

This is the only agriculture fruit counting and sizing system available in the world. Developers say a scanner is attached to a UTV that growers can drive down orchard rows and video is taken of the fruit to count how many apples and determine the size. Knowing the size of their fruit can maximize a growers' profit.

Washington Tractor Crop Adviser Karl Wirth said this new technology can help reduce the number of people needed to work in the fields. He said the technology costs around $80,000 but will pay for itself.

According to, the developers said this counting system has a 95 percent accuracy rate, compared to counting by hand which can be off by more than 30 percent. Washington Tractor said they are hoping to have 10 of these machines in Washington fields by March.

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