Upcoming Farming Technologies

In a world with growing need of food, there is a high demand of work and effort from humans needed to feed so many mouths. Just imagine if this job can be done by a robot, faster and more precise. Companies around the world are investing in creating and launching new technologies that facilitate the crops picking activity.

In Netherlands, there is an abundant number of greenhouses used to grow produce such as peppers, tomatoes and greens. Agricultural engineer, Eldert van Henten, is working on a pepper harvester. The pepper harvester is programmed to recognize the colour of the pepper and cut it from the stem, without damaging the fruit. The challenge in constructing the robot is to enable the robot to quickly identify the correct range of colour through a coloured camera lens.

A human can pick approximately 15 to 20 ripe strawberries in a minute. In the United Kingdom, Green has developed a strawberry picker that is able to pick a strawberry every 2 seconds, equivalent to about 30 strawberries in a minute. The robot uses stereoscopic vision with RGB cameras that capture depth in combination with a complex algorithm. It is estimated with robots will soon take over the places of human pickers.

Timing plays an important role in agriculture. If you pick the fruit too early, it is wasteful. But if you wait too long, it rots. Therefore the perfect timing is needed in order to get the best fruits picked. Precision farming is developed to do just what is needed to avoid picking fruits at the wrong time. Manuela Zude-Sasse has developed sensors that detect fruit size and levels of the pigments chlorophyll and anthocyanin when attached to the fruits. The data is then run through an algorithm which helps determine the exact time to pick the fruit. Once it is time to be picked, the growers are alerted by an app that is downloaded onto their smartphones.