The Pluto harvester was publicly demonstrated for the first time on Wednesday, September 29. That was at the Van Rossum Fruit in the Netherlands. So reports the Netherlands Fruits Growers' Organization (NFO). Agricom had previously demonstrated a Pluto prototype at an NFO trade show.
It has since optimized the machine further. A striking feature of the machine is its long, wide harvesting belt. That ensures that picking can continue immediately after the crate is changed. The belt has sufficient fruit buffering space for that.
The filling system, in particular, required some thought. The wide supply belt means a lot of fruit must be offloaded at once. The manufacturers have, however, succeeded. They aligned the supply belt and rotating filling disc, so this runs smoothly and damage-free.
"We did a trial at Vissers Fruit with Delcorf. They then used the machine to harvest Conference and Elstar too. We improved it in several ways over the past weeks. Now, we have a machine with which we're really satisfied," says Agricom's Hans van Blokland.
The growers at the demonstration were also pleased with the results. They could take a turn at picking and watching the harvester at work. Although it is intended for six pickers, more people were harvesting at once during the demo.