What we doAsparagus harvesting robot

AvL Motion is the first company in the world to harvest asparagus successfully without human intervention. We have already tested a prototype in the field that detects and cuts the asparagus and removes it from the soil.

 

The harvesting machine is currently being further developed and will be tested extensively during the 2018 harvest season. The machine will most likely be available for purchase at the end of that season.

The need
For some time, a number of asparagus growers have expressed the desire and the need to be able to harvest asparagus with a machine, but then selectively. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find suitable personnel to harvest the crop. Accommodation and the high wage costs due to the labour intensity are also an important factor.
The Netherlands is in fifth place in Europe in terms of the area devoted to asparagus. Key figures for the asparagus sector:
- Area in Germany 2015 (CBS): 20,590 hectares
- Area in Spain 2015 (CBS): 11,250 hectares
- Area in Italy 2015 (CBS): 6,400 hectares
- Area in France 2015 (CBS): 4,500 hectares

- Area in the Netherlands 2010 (CBS): 2,695 hectares
- Area in the Netherlands 2016 (CBS): 3,789 hectares
- Number of companies in the Netherlands 2016: 641
- Number of companies in Germany 2016: 1853

Given the extensive areas under cultivation, there is now an enormous demand for suitable employees to harvest the crops. The use of an asparagus robot reduces the high labour intensity and also ensures a harvest with more consistent quality.

How does the robot work?
The asparagus harvesting robot harvests the asparagus selectively and autonomously as the machine follows the asparagus bed at a constant speed.  During the process, the robot detects, cuts and harvests the asparagus, after which it collects it in a transfer station. The machine will include the following modules:

*Pre-processing system
The pre-processing system prepares the asparagus bed so that the asparagus can be harvested. During this process, the machine detects the asparagus while it is still under the soil in the bed. 

*Master frame
The asparagus is harvested in the master frame. During this process, the asparagus to be harvested is cropped at the right length without damaging other asparagus plants in the immediate surroundings. The asparagus is then removed from the bed by "mechanical fingers". The asparagus then makes its way to the end of the machine. Here, it is collected in a collecting station.

*Post-processing system
The post-processing system restores the asparagus bed to its original condition. This ensures that the bed is in optimal condition throughout the harvest season.

*Propulsion system
The propulsion system conveys all of the abovementioned components. It also conveys the energy supply, controller modules and secondary systems. The propulsion system will travel at a speed of 1m/s and is self-driving.

Capacity
The harvesting robot will be available in two configurations, deployable for 1 or 3 rows.  In the 1-row configuration, the machine will be able to harvest approx. 15 hectares per day, and in the 3-row configuration approx. 45 hectares. The machine can be transported by trailer, so it is easy to move around. This makes it accessible to both small and large growers.

User group
The harvesting robot is being developed for asparagus growers or cooperatives. If you are interested in this machine, we would like to produce it together with you so that it meets all your requirements.

We are also interested in contacting parties that can offer financial support in order to realise the project. This participation will entitle contributors to a share of the project, or the machine can be deployed as a "first customer" for a reduced price.

If you have any questions and/or are interested in the concept, please get in touch with us.
 

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