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New tools to assess fruit ripeness

Overripe fruits end up as waste and will create microbes and pathogens. To overcome the problem of over-ripeness of fruits, Queensland scientists have introduced a sensor-based technology. The researchers have developed a new tool to assess the ripeness of mango crops before the harvest, potentially boosting harvest timing & fruit quality.

The non-invasive sensor team from CQUniversity revealed that it had created new sensor system technology using near-infrared spectroscopy to evaluate products in the orchard, without damaging the product. The technology allows growers to better plan their harvest, by employing the right number of pickers at the right time.

University professor Kerry Walsh said some cases, farm performance improved by more than 40% by early and accurate assessment of fruit ripeness. She said the team’s focus was developing new sensor hardware and working with existing sensor hardware to assess agriculture commodities without damaging the product.

She said: “As a consumer, if you go into a retail store and you purchase fruit on the basis of what it looks like, take it home and you have an eating experience that’s bad”.

Professor Walsh’ team is now investigating the use of machine vision to assess mango flowering & fruiting and robotic harvesting techniques to overcome labor shortages and occupational risks to workers. quoted her as saying:  “We were in the fields doing the dry matter measurements and we could see the grower practice of trying to estimate fruit yields that is how much crop was on the tree, so that they could be organized in terms of labor requirements, packhouse requirements & that was all being done manually with a hand counter, so that lead us into a new line of work looking at machine vision in the field, so rather than just machine vision in the pack house, taking it into the field to estimate crop load across the field. The next step is to try and reach out to pick the fruit to automate the harvest.”

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