Japan: Development of a growth sensing system for just-in-time production of strawberries

The National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) has developed a growth sensing system that automatically collects the strawberry growth information to realize the just-in-time (JIT) production of strawberries. By means of combining this system with growth control technology that utilizes growth models and AI, it will be eventually possible to control the harvest date of strawberries with high accuracy. In the future, it is expected that the income of strawberry farmers will increase by precisely matching the time when the demand for strawberries is high with the peak shipment.

In Japan, strawberries are one of the largest vegetables available in the market, whose demand fluctuates greatly throughout the year. Especially in terms of shipping, it is necessary to precisely align the peak shipment with the demand for Christmas and New Year holidays and to have a stable shipment without interruption at the time when the strawberries are highly available in the market. Currently, shipment volume adjustments based on cultivation management are based on the experience of producers. In the future, as the number of producers continues to decrease, there is a need for new growth control techniques that allow producers to make decisions based on data without depending on experience or perception.

NARO (President: KYUMA Kazuo) established the Research Center for Agricultural Robotics (hereinafter mentioned as center) in April 2021. The center aims for the early realization of "Society 5.0" in the fields of agriculture and the food industry through the deployment of cutting-edge robotics technology and system integration technology to agricultural production sites. This time, a growth sensing system for JIT production of strawberries was developed as a research result of the center. This system automatically collects the growth information necessary for predicting the harvest date of strawberries. By combining this system with growth control technology that utilizes growth models and AI, it will be possible to control the harvest date of strawberries with high accuracy in the future.

The center is advancing research and development of a JIT production system of strawberries that can precisely control the growth and shift the fruit harvest date to the required shipping date during the demand period. By means of an automatic image collection system, growth sensing system consisting of flowering recognition AI and fruit temperature recognition AI, it is now possible to automatically collect growth information required for JIT production with an artificial meteorological device. In the future, by constructing a JIT production system of strawberries that can be used at the production site through verification at the house, it will be possible to precisely shift the harvest date to the time when the demand for strawberries increases with the peak period of shipment, and it is expected that the income of strawberry farmers will increase.

For more information:
Research Center for Agricultural Robotics, NARO
www.naro.go.jp 


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