In April this year, an autonomous harvesting machine for asparagus was tested in practice by AvL Motion from Westerbeek, the Netherlands. Evaluations from the past testing period showed that the most important function, the modules that actually harvest the asparagus, function as they should. The next few months will be spent on improvements, after which the harvesting robot will be completely ready for use in 2019.
Increasing harvesting capacity; no damage to the beds
“One of these improvements is that the harvesting modules will become more compact. That way, more harvesting modules can be placed on one metre in the new design, increasing the harvesting capacity to 15 asparagus per metre. Due to the accurate manner of harvesting, only the asparagus is removed from the bed, and hardly any sand will be brought up. Testing showed the bed continues to be homogeneous. The recovery of the bed after each harvesting action is therefore not immediately necessary. The plough at the back responsible for this recovery can quickly be replaced by means of a simple quick-change system with a collecting module with room for about 500 kilos of asparagus. This results in a time gain because the machine had to be emptied after each row in the past. The plough can be placed back via a simple action when the bed needs recovery after an average of two weeks.”
“Another improvement is the use of larger caterpillar tracks. This further reduces pressure on the soil. This prevents the soil from becoming too dense due to the soil compaction that occurs when a heavy machine with traditional tracks is used among the asparagus. This adjustment also contributes to keeping a qualitatively good asparagus area,” according to AvL Motion.
Harvesting module patented, other functions being further developed
AvL continues to develop the patented harvesting modules. “An option will be added to the machine to put the foil back on the same bed (instead of on the next bed). Because of this, the machine can skip two, four or six beds at the end of the field, and work the field in a spiral. This further contributes to efficiency because the machine doesn’t have to turn at the end of the row, but it can continue in one smooth movement. Naturally, the customer gets to decide which system will be used. In the coming winter, we’ll continue working on the stability of the harvesting modules, to further reduce the chance of a failure. Reliability is also being worked on by adding improvements to the hydraulic system.”
For more information:
5843AT Westerbeek, the Netherlands
T: +31 6 28 38 69 76