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Autonomous Mechanical Thinning Using Scanning LIDAR

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

Citation:  2011 Louisville, Kentucky, August 7-10, 2011  1111792.(doi:10.13031/2013.38170)
Authors:   Matthew M Aasted, Reuben J Dise, Tara A Baugher, James R Schupp, Paul H Heinemann, Sanjiv Singh
Keywords:   Automation, Mechanical Thinning, LIDAR

Hand thinning is a labor-intensive and expensive peach production practice. Mechanical thinning has been shown to be an economical method of reducing thinning cost. However, current mechanical thinning systems applied to perpendicular V systems require the operator to constantly steer the tractor to maintain engagement. This paper presents a system using a LIDAR to sense the canopy and automatically control the position of a modified Darwin string thinner position to maintain engagement. We demonstrate that the automated system is approximately as good as a human at maintaining canopy engagement by presenting blossom removal counts, and suggest that this may be an economically viable method of augmenting mechanical thinning.

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