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Current Status and Technical Challenges of Asparagus Mechanical Harvesting

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2010 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 20 - June 23, 2010  1008866.(doi:10.13031/2013.29743)
Authors:   Du Chen, Qin Zhang, Shumao Wang
Keywords:   Keywords: Asparagus, mechanical harvest, mechanical aid, selective harvest, harvest efficiency

This article reviews the current status and technical challenges of mechanical harvesting of asparagus. Researchers have sought high efficiency machinery for harvesting asparagus over the past 100 years. However, none asparagus harvester has commercially available due to lower yield and poorer product quality comparing with hand harvesting. This paper first analyzes the critical biological and physical properties of asparagus relevant to mechanical harvest. Existing asparagus harvester can be categorized into three groups of mechanical aid, non-selective and selective mechanical harvesting. This paper then analyzes the operating principles of those three methods in terms of spear detection, cutting/snapping and collection/transportation. Economic and harvesting efficiency results are also discussed in this paper. Three main issues contributing to low efficiency are spear detecting accuracy, spear damage during harvesting and harvest effectiveness. Reported researches suggested that the integration of a mobile robotic system supported by a 3-D visual spear detector could offer a potential solution for automatic harvesting of asparagus if the control algorithm and/or a microcontroller could support real-time operation.

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