Christiaens Agro Systems sets new standards for mechanical harvesting of green asparagus

"Both dependence on skilled personnel and production costs are reduced"

After the introduction of Chrisje and Chris for the non-selective harvesting of white asparagus, the Christiaens company's machine catalogue is extended with a new innovation: Christi-AN. Christian is a patented solution, exclusively for harvesting green asparagus. The Christi-AN is usually mounted on the rear of a tractor. "So far, we are the first supplier of a commercial harvesting solution for green asparagus," Angelique Christiaens explains.

The two Chrisje and Chris methods have been supporting asparagus growers in harvesting white asparagus for many years. More and more often, the question arose as to whether these solutions were also suitable for harvesting green asparagus. "After several years of research we have found that two completely different harvesting methods are needed. Green asparagus mainly grows out of the soil, whereas white asparagus thrives in the asparagus beds, i.e. within the soil. For this reason, green asparagus harvesting asks for a completely new mechanical solution," says Christiaens.

Right: If two harvesters are sitting on the machine, the 1.5 metre distance rules can be easily complied with. It would also be possible to equip the machine with additional shielding.

Completely new procedure
The cutting system of the green asparagus machine is also hardly comparable to the double blade system of the white asparagus harvest. "In addition, white asparagus features asparagus beds, which is why the freshly harvested products are automatically transported upwards over the machine. In contrast, when harvesting green asparagus by machine, a brush is needed to push the product onto the conveyor belt. Finally, immediately after harvesting, the beds of the white asparagus are sifted by means of a chain so that they are rebuilt homogeneously. The green asparagus, on the other hand, is cut off and then automatically brought to a comfortable working height by the conveyor belt. Green asparagus can then be easily and efficiently placed in boxes and, if necessary, pre-sorted."

The first prototype for green asparagus harvesting was tested in 2019. As a result, the Christian method was developed, which was further tested, optimised and improved during this year's season. This year, research work was also carried out on the non-selective harvesting of green asparagus. Christiaens: "The first feedback is very positive. We see an increasing demand for green asparagus in Germany and the Benelux countries and good prices in this year's campaign. We therefore believe that we are now making it possible for green asparagus growers to reduce their dependence on skilled labour and to reduce production costs. We also want to offer a tool for more accurate harvest planning."

The speed of the machine depends on the dexterity of the 1-3 people who must sort the asparagus from the belt on the back of the machine, with a maximum of 6 km/h. 

Marketing in times of Corona
During the current corona crisis, it is particularly difficult to demonstrate the new solution. Normally, the Christi-AN would have been the highlight at trade fairs and specialist events, according to Ms. Christiaen. "Some events have been cancelled, some others, such as the ExpoSE, will probably still take place. Personally, we would have liked to demonstrate the solution and its advantages on site now at the end of the season. Instead, we have now decided to have a detailed video presentation so that you can still see how the solution works on the field. We also did some comprehensive filming with a drone. This film should drop pretty soon."

For more information:
Christiaens Agro Systems
Angelique Christiaens
Heldenseweg 15a
6086 PD Neer (NL)
Tel: 0031 (0) 475 59 48 69
Fax:  0031 (0) 475 59 44 36

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