The innovative strawberry transplanter developed by the team of Professor Hu Jianping of the Agricultural Engineering and Information Technology Research Institute of the School of Agricultural Engineering of Jiangsu University recently debuted for the demonstration of work, and it has been widely praised. "This will make it possible to specialize, scale up, mechanize and standardize strawberry cultivation," said Cai Guofang, director of the Jiangsu Agricultural Machinery Application Development Center.
According to Liu Wei, a team member, the transplanter can perform tasks such as carrying labor and digging holes, which greatly reduces the complicated and tiring processes such as frequent bending, getting up, and walking back and forth in manual transplanting, which greatly saves the physical strength of farmers.
"Helping farmers to solve the hardships of bending over to work, promoting planting mechanization, and improving production efficiency and quality have always been the driving force and direction of our work." Hu Jianping said that the team has been tackling the key technologies of planting machinery for many years. In May 2021, the vegetable transplanter developed by the team successfully completed the automatic operation of the whole process of sending trays, picking seedlings, planting seedlings, covering soil, and recycling seedling trays.
"Jiangsu is a big province of strawberries, and the mechanization of key links in strawberry production has always been the focus of our research institute." Hu Jianping said that the research institute has assembled a variety of intelligent identification and control technologies and has conducted in-depth research on strawberry transplanting and picking. Researcher Liu Jizhan's team also published a monograph on the strawberry robot.
Jin Yucheng, secretary of the Party Committee of the School of Agricultural Engineering at Jiangsu University, said that by 2019, China had become the world's largest producer and consumer of strawberries. However, compared with the mechanization of staple food production, the research and development of key technologies for strawberry planting and harvest in China is relatively immature.
According to the team, the strawberry bare-root seedling transplanter is more complicated than the transplanting of plug seedlings. "Although the operation efficiency and quality have been recognized by farmers, there is still a lot of room for improvement compared to the fully automated vegetable plug seedling transplanter previously developed by the team." Hu Jianping said that the team is currently tackling the identification of the "bow back" of strawberries and other key technologies, if successful, the whole process of mechanization of strawberry transplanting is expected to be realized.