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An on-the-go ultrasonic plant height measurement system (UPHMS II) in the wild blueberry cropping system

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

Citation:  2016 ASABE Annual International Meeting  162460289.(doi:10.13031/aim.20162460289)
Authors:   Young K. Chang, Qamar Zaman, Aitazaz Farooque, Tanzeel Rehman, Travis Esau
Keywords:   automation, height, mechanical harvester, real-time, ultrasonic, wild blueberry.


Wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.) is a perennial rhizomatous low shrub and mostly mechanically harvested. The operator of the harvester needs to maintain the optimum height of harvester‘s head according to the plant height for better yield and quality while decreasing plant pulling. An ultrasonic on-the-go plant height measurement system (UPHMS II) was developed and compared with previous height measurement system (UPHMS I). A real-time kinematics differential global positioning system (RTK-GPS), a custom program and a ruggedized computer and both plant height sensing system were mounted on a commercial mechanical harvester for real-time plant height measurement during harvesting. A custom program was developed to acquire and process ultrasonic sensing data in real-time from both UPHMS I and UPHMS II simultaneously. Two wild blueberry fields were selected in central Nova Scotia to evaluate the performance of both UPHMS I and UPHMS II. Manually measured plant height values from 24 plots were compared with real-time measured values of two systems. UPHMS II performed better to predict wild blueberry plant height with higher accuracy than UPHMS I. The RMSE of the sensed height of UPHMS I and UPHMS II were 6.4 cm and 1.6 cm, respectively. UPHMS II can be an economic option to control wild blueberry harvester head automatically to increase harvester and operator‘s efficiency. Real-time and accurate sensing of plant height is the first step toward the automation of the wild blueberry harvester. Refinements for the optimum head height according to the plant height is required for future studies.

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