Developments in Technology and Automation for Tree Fruit


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This is a summary of some innovative technologies being researched and used in the tree fruit industry.

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Developments in Technology and Automation for Tree Fruit

  1. 1. Developments in Technology and Automation for Tree Fruit Katie Ellis Penn State Cooperative Extension of Adams County
  2. 2. Penn State Specialty Crop Innovations
  3. 3. Ag Innovations Team PSU FREC – Jim Schupp, Larry Hull, Henry Ngugi, Jim Travis, Greg Krawczyk, Lynn Kime, Edwin Winzeler, Tom Kon PSU Southeast Region - Tara Baugher, Katie Ellis, Jim Remcheck, Student Interns PSU State College – Rob Crassweller, Rich Marini, Paul Heinemann, Jay Harper
  4. 4. Adoption of New Ag Technologies 8 yr lag to early adoption/15 yrs to full adoption From Alston, Norton, and Pardey Science Under Scarcity,1995.
  5. 5. Innovative Technologies for the Thinning of Fruit USDA-SCRI Specialty Crops Research Initiative PSU, UC Davis, Clemson, WSU, UMD, UIL, USDA
  6. 6. Innovative Technologies for Thinning of Fruit Trans-disciplinary goal: To develop and field test novel mechanized methods of thinning specialty crops and to assess sociological and economic feasibilities of industry implementation A multi-disciplinary team will investigate approaches that integrate electronics, mechanical components, and decision making algorithms to provide efficient, cost-effective, and ecosystem-based fruit thinning. These objectives include both research and extension components, and provide for industry interaction to address the many issues involved in the development to delivery process.
  7. 7. Selective Thinning Investigations Simulating human movement with machines
  8. 8. Non-Selective Thinning Investigations In Cooperation with WSU, UC Davis, Clemson, USDA Mechanical Thinning at Various Bud Stages Modifying Pruning Practices to Improve Access by Mechanical Thinners Various combinations of labor efficient thinning methods Photo by Mark Seetin, USApple
  9. 9. String Configurations
  10. 10. Thinning Results • Blossom removal ranged from 20-55%. Factors that affected removal rates included string arrangement, tractor speed, spindle rotation speed, cultivar, tree training system, pruning, and bud stage. • Hand thinning requirements were reduced by 25-65%, and fruit size distribution improved in all but one trial. • Net economic impact at optimum tractor and spindle speeds was $462-$1490 and $230- $847 for processing and fresh market peaches, respectively.
  11. 11. Thinning Results
  12. 12. Implications for Growers Mechanical thinners are consistent in both reducing labor costs and increasing fruit size (Chemical thinners are fairly consistent in reducing fruit set and increasing fruit size but not in reducing follow-up hand thinning) Hand Thinned Blossom Thinned with String Thinner
  13. 13. Outreach & Grower Input “ I saved $3,000 in labor over a two month period” “My operation cut down on hand thinning time by a week”
  14. 14. Comprehensive Automation for Specialty Crops USDA-SCRI Specialty Crops Research Initiative CMU, PSU, Purdue, OSU, WSU, USDA
  15. 15. Reconfigurable Mobility Goal: develop reconfigurable vehicles that can be used for several functions, like spraying, mowing, harvest, pruning, and thinning - Research on accurate vehicle positioning to georeference crop and environmental conditions
  16. 16. Augmented Fruit Harvesting Devices Russell Rohrbaugh & Alex Leslie Needs: – Hand picking accounts for ~50% of total fruit production costs – Up to 30% of fruit is damaged during harvest Photo by Mark Seetin, USApple
  17. 17. Detection of Plant Stress, Disease, and Insect Infestations Input Images Detection Results
  18. 18. Monitoring Insect Populations Goals: – Automatically monitor orchard pest (moth) populations with high spatial and temporal resolution – Reduce costs associated with checking conventional wing traps
  19. 19. Autonomous Crop Load Scouting Goals: – Better crop load measurements (more accurate and less costly than manual approach) • Crop load measurements influence various orchard management decisions (e.g., matching harvesting to orders; fertilizer, irrigation, pest control measures) • Autonomous scouting enables orchard management decisions to be made in a more timely and accurate manner
  20. 20. Other Components of CASC • Sociological Implications – Socioeconomic surveys • Value Proposition • Outreach • Feedback from advisory panel
  21. 21. Related Investigations in New Technologies CIG Plots · Orchard Platform · WeedSeeker®
  22. 22. United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Services Conservation Innovation Grant Seth & Dan Boyer Ken Guise/Dave Cox Tony & Terry Fetters Michael Flinchbaugh Bill Gardenhour Dave & Shawn Garretson Brad & Bruce Hollabaugh Brian Jacques Brian, Kevin, & Kyle Knouse Corey McCleaf Neil Starner Ed & Justin Weaver
  23. 23. Field Laboratories on New Training Systems for Intensive Orchards Narrow Vertical Axis Vertical Axis Hedgerow (4-Wire Trellis)
  24. 24. Platform Trials Photo by Sally Colby
  25. 25. WeedSeeker Trials ®
  26. 26. Many cooperators contributed to this research – Thank You!
  27. 27. Work conducted so far - made possible by: • PSU College of Agriculture Seed Grant Program • PA Department of Community and Economic Development First Industries Program • State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania Extension Committee • PDA Peach and Nectarine Board • Robert C. Hoffman Foundation • Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission Important funds used to support Specialty Crop Innovations Coordinator and Student Interns
  28. 28. Penn State Cooperative Extension of Adams County Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center Penn State Departments of Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Horticulture Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences research, extension, and resident education programs are funded in part by Pennsylvania counties, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Where trade names appear, no discrimination is intended, and no endorsements by Penn State Cooperative Extension is implied. The Pennsylvania State University is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to programs, facilities, admission, and employment without regard to personal characteristics not related to ability, performance, or qualifications as determined by University policy or by state or federal authorities. It is the policy of the University to maintain an academic and work environment free of discrimination, including harassment. The Pennsylvania State University prohibits discrimination and harassment against any person because of age, ancestry, color, disability or handicap, national origin, race, religious creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran status. Discrimination or harassment against faculty, staff, or students will not be tolerated at The Pennsylvania State University. Direct all inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policy to the Affirmative Action Director, The Pennsylvania State University, 328 Boucke Building, University Park, PA 16802-5901; Tel 814-865-4700/V, 814-863-1150/TTY.