In order to further improve our know-how in the sector of orchards, we visited the “Appeldag 2015” on June 25, 2015 in Cothen (Netherlands). At this event, which takes place every second year, everything is about orchards, from cultivation to harvest to selling. At our visit we made many new contacts and gained interesting insights into the world of orchards.
Demonstration of a new type of mulcher at the “Appeldag 2015”
This year’s “Appeldag” took place at the fruit farm “Toon Vernooij Fruiteelt”. This fruit farm cultivates apples, pears, plums, pumpkins and potatoes. More than 2500 visitors participated at the “Appeldag” between 10:30am and 08:00pm. That is more than double the number of 2013. The 120 exhibitors covered the range from hail insurance to several sorts of fruit juices to the newest equipment for weed control.
Besides the info market hourly demonstrations of the newest machines and guided tours were offered. Especially the machine demonstrations have been very interesting for us in order to see the current development status of autonomous navigation in orchards.
A compact working platform for tree care was shown by the company Frutec. It was equipped with ultrasound sensors to enable going through rows autonomously. This allows the operator of the vehicle to help at tree care without having to concentrate on tracking. At the end of the tree line the operator takes the control and navigates the vehicle to the next line.
The company Probotiq goes one step further. They mainly offer their navigation solution for tractors of the company Fendt. It refers to a Teach&Playback solution. That means the operator first moves along a route with the vehicle. While the operator is driving the needed parameters like the position, gas, and steering angle are recorded. Also the condition and the operating mode are recorded. Afterwards the vehicle is driven to the starting point. Now it is able to playback the recorded program.
The Robot Makers GmbH is also working on several solutions for autonomous navigation in orchards. These start with simple lane departure and end with complete automation of the towing vehicle and their attachments. More detailed information can be found in our article Automation in orchards.
In addition to the already mentioned navigation solutions also some implements like spraying engines for pesticide, new tools for pest control, special tractors for orchards, working platforms or transportation platforms for crate handling were presented.
In conclusion the “Appeldag 2015” gave us an extensive overview of the hole supply chain of fruit production. We now want to use the gained know-how to better understand the needs and wishes of our customers and take this into consideration of our development.