Mechanising Horticulture and Viticulture

Apple Orchard

Increasing population numbers have propelled the introduction of mechanisation into the agricultural sector, with ever-improving technology allowing for the expansion of food production. The horticulture branch of agriculture has not missed out on this booming trade with mechanisation improving the lives of farmers every day.

Some of the benefits of mechanisation include:

  • Increases production
  • Assists farm labourers
  • Reduces the cost of production
  • Improvement of agricultural technique
  • Can shift from subsistence to commercial agricultural farming

Machinery Used in Horticulture

Almost all horticultural activities can be mechanised nowadays because of the rapid technological development. Although certain farmers might opt to retain some of the traditional farming methods, many need to keep up with market demands and are finding mechanisation the best option.

  1. Apples

When it comes to harvesting apples, there are so many brands and uses of apples that developing one machine for the process is inherently difficult. But there are many companies working on prototypes, among them, Abundant Robotics, an Australian company that is currently testing a machine that can identify and remove apples, almost as accurately as a human. Another example is the Apple Harvester, a machine with hydraulic platforms on each side to allow apple picking teams to move in to safely gather apples that they can’t reach from ground level. The picked apples are placed in a collection bag which then travels through a vacuum hose which is attached to the bag, all the way to a bin.

  1. Olives

Harvesting olives can be a tricky business which is why there is quite a range of machinery available. One machine essentially encircles underneath the olive tree branches with a canvas of sorts while shaking the tree. All the fallen olives are then captured in this canvas. Another form of olive harvesting is a tractor which essentially engulfs the entire tree and shakes the olives loose, releasing them to a sidecar bin.

  1. Strawberries

These delicate red berries grow closer to the ground than most other fruits which is why they are now grown in special containers which encourages the growth of the berry over the container’s side. When it comes to harvesting, there is specialised machinery which gently removes these useful berries without damaging them.

  1. Tulips

Renowned for its glorious tulips, among other things, the Netherlands has mastered the art of the floral production. When it comes to harvesting the tulip bulbs, a big machine drives over the land and scoops the sand with the bulbs. These bulbs will be collected in a wooden box and ventilated before another machine peels the bulbs.

  1. Grapes (viticulture)

This particularly specialised agricultural product is accompanied by a number of different technologies to assist in the overall production. Applied technologies – global positioning systems, satellite and airborne remote sensing, geographic information systems, digital elevation models, high resolution soil survey and wireless sensor networks, among others – provide information on the optimum harvest time. While there is contention between hand-picking and mechanical harvesting for many wine farmers, the mechanical grape harvester is an incredibly sophisticated machine. It works by beating the vine with rubber sticks until grapes fall onto a conveyor belt which takes them to a holding bin. They are then sorted from leaves and twigs, as well as into healthy berries and those which should be discarded.

Mechanisation of agriculture does not mean that farmers have to replace all labour and invest huge amounts into sophisticated machinery. By choosing the most appropriate machines for the farm size and type, farmers can increase production and even combine more traditional farming methods with modern mechanised agriculture.

For more information on agricultural equipment, contact Radium Engineering. With years of expertise, a passion for the agricultural industry and a commitment to manufacturing superior equipment, Radium Engineering is the answer to all your farming and agricultural and tillage equipment needs.