Improving berry picking efficiency of wild blueberry harvester using precision agriculture and bio-systems modeling techniques
The overall objective of the proposed initiative is to develop a novel, automated and integrated field operation and berry harvesting system that will identify the root causes of increased loses; increase berry picking efficiency and product quality. Currently, there are 15 to 25% fruit yield losses during the harvesting with the existing commercial blueberry harvester. The wild blueberry growers set a goal increase the harvestable yields by 33%. To achieve this, the technology based products and processes that are envision include (i) identification of sources responsible for increased losses (ii) improve harvestable berry recovery, (ii) replacement of old technology with innovative integrated harvesting system, (iv) find out a suitable combination of ground speed and harvester head revolution with minimum losses after detailed evaluation of the harvester using precision agriculture technologies and mathematical modeling procedures. Improving harvesting efficiency can reduce fruit losses and contribute millions of dollars to provincial as well as the federal economy every year.