Selective harvesting robot for broccoli increases production and quality of product

Wageningen UR Glastuinbouw is developing a harvesting robot for broccoli. This robot is different from the present generation of mechanical harvesting machines because of the selective method of working: an intelligent Computer Vision system which registers and selects broccoli with an exact size and allows the rest to grow till the next harvesting day.

The broccoli 
plant does not grow in a uniform manner. Every broccoli in the field is significantly different in size. But the market requires a uniform product. At the moment selection for size of the harvest is possible by hand only. This is very labour intensive and subjective judging is not consistent. There is a mechanical solution to harvest broccoli, but without the difference in size.

In cooperation with Mijno van Dijk Mechanisatie and Agritronics Wageningen UR Glastuinbouw is developing a new robot which combines both manners of harvesting optimally and improves them. Mechanical harvesting together with going through the plants selectively in order to recognize and harvest the broccoli with the correct size.

This manner of working has far reaching advantages. The production increases as every broccoli is only harvested at the optimum moment. Doors are being opened as a result for visual inspection before harvesting. Also data can be collected about the field, so that productivity and the quality can be registered at various positions.

The module responsible for the Computer Vision and the surplus intelligence is being realized by Wageningen Glastuinbouw. Researcher Ruud Barth has for his share in this project won the Young Professional Award granted by the European Machine Vision Association (EMVA).

Source: Wageningen UR

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