The Sweeper consortium was invited to hold the first live demonstration of its new sweet pepper harvesting robot at the De Tuindershoek greenhouse horticulture firm in IJsselmuiden. The so-called ‘Sweeper robot’ is the world’s first harvesting robot for sweet peppers to be demonstrated in a commercial greenhouse. An audience of over 40 interested parties watched the harvesting robot pick its first commercially-grown sweet peppers.
The Sweeper robot was designed to harvest sweet peppers in a cultivation system based on single plant stalks in a row, a crop without clusters and in little foliage near the fruits.
In earlier test set-ups in a commercial greenhouse with a V-type double-row cultivation system the harvesting robot achieved a harvesting percentage of 62%. Based on these test results, the Sweeper consortium expects to be able to bring the commercial sweet pepper harvesting robot to the market in about four or five years.
Further research required
Until then, further research will be needed to enable the robots to work faster and achieve a higher success percentage. Additionally, commercially viable cultivation systems must be developed that are more suitable to the robotic harvesting of crops. The test and research results are not only suitable for the automatic harvesting of sweet peppers; the data can also be used to robotise the harvesting of other crops.
International research partnership
Sweeper is a partnership between Wageningen University & Research (WUR), sweet pepper farm De Tuindershoek BV, the Umea University in Sweden, the Ben-Gurion University in Israel, the Research Station for Vegetable Cultivation and Bogaerts Greenhouse Logistics in Belgium. The study receives financial support from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme and is also funded by the Dutch Horticulture and Propagation Materials Top Sector.
Successor of CROPS
The Sweeper robot is the successor of CROPS (Clever Robots for Crops), an EU project launched by WUR, in which WUR and the other participants developed a robot that can make a distinction between a sweet pepper plant’s fruit, leaves, stalks and main stems. As a result, the robot can harvest sweet peppers without damaging the fruit, leaves, stalks or stems.
Source and photo: www.sweeper-robot.eu. Video: Wageningen UR greenhouse horticulture.
A consortium of three companies, Ecoation, Metazet FormFlex and Micothon, has launched a new robot for scouting plants in greenhouses.
Revolutionary patented sensors register plant diseases and plant production factors before human eyes can discover them. The data generated is automatically displayed on a greenhouse map. This finally makes it possible to steer and protect the plants on an almost individual level, leading to minimal need for crop protection combined with maximum production of “always healthy plants”.
The robot registers the diseases and development of the plants in greenhouses with technology based on the patented Saber sensor, which detects pests, diseases and deficiencies at an early stage. It can also be equipped with cameras, a gyro sensor and sensors for RH%, temperature, CO2, crop top temperature and a PAR sensor, resulting in almost total plant control. www.metazet.com
Stand number: 12.107
Thanks to the unique pull wire installation robot, working at great heights and installation faults are no longer an issue.
Nowadays no greenhouse is built without a screen cloth. More and more greenhouses have double or triple screens for energy saving, sun shading, blacking out or reducing light emissions. Thanks to the innovative slip-in systems, installing screens is already much safer and easier than it was ten years ago.
Problem solving robot
On the other hand, a lot of dangerous work is still being done at heights of 6 or 7 metres. For every hectare of greenhouse, 2,000 metres of pull wire have to be installed. Installing pull wires is normally done manually, and as the wires have to be installed between thousands of upper and lower polyester wires, installation faults are easily made. With the innovative robot from Van der Valk Horti Systems, these problems are solved. www.valkhortisystems.nl
Stand number: 12.223
The ISO Robot Plug Planting Machine is a machine with robot arms that can plant small plants in the ground from a plug tray. This method of planting plugs in the ground with robot arms is completely unique anywhere in the world.
The current machine, which is specially designed for Lisianthus plants, can handle 6,000 plants per robot arm, and the maximum capacity can be increased to 18,000 plants per hour with a third arm. It can all be operated by one person. Up to now, the plants have been planted out by hand. With the humidity and warmth in the greenhouse needed to grow Lisianthus, this is a very tough, labour-intensive job. The machine is designed to enable the operator to control the plants as they are being planted. www.iso-group.nl
Stand number: 11.307
The new smart packing line from WPS consists of five individual modules, all members of the SmartStaff robot family. Modules can be combined based on the grower’s specific needs.
Smart Picking is designed especially for companies with a capacity of more than 2,500 plants per hour. It picks up plants from containers and places them in plant carriers on conveyor belts. The labelling module has a capacity of more than 2,000 plants per hour. Special feature: pots are labelled with in-line printing directly from the OCS software. The third module is for destacking trays and works with a wide range of trays which can all be learned by the OCS software.
Placing plants without damaging them is the speciality of Smart Placing. It has a capacity of more than 1,500 plants per hour. Finally, Smart Wrapping (> 200 trays per hour) wraps trays filled with plants. This module reduces the amount of plastic used in the plant packing process. www.wps.eu
Stand number: 11.201