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Mass Harvesters :: Multiple Shift Harvesting

Annual Progress Report:


  1. Evaluation of issues and challenges to the adoption of multiple shift (24 hr/d) mechanical harvesting.
  2. Exploration of the feasibility of developing a stochastic equipment utilization model to optimize producer/harvesting/hauling/processing aspects of the harvesting chain operation, and thus achieve the most favorable economic return on investment.
  3. Development of sensing and virtual reality technologies capable of enhancing equipment utilization, operational safety, and tracking during 24 hr/day harvesting.

Current Work:

Issues Paper Associated with 24 h/d Mechanical Harvesting
A white paper will be generated, which will document the issues associated with implementing 24 hr/day citrus harvesting. Discussions with the citrus industry should provide valuable insights into the challenges that will be faced by growers, processors, and harvesting managers when attempting 24 hr/day harvesting. Additional discussions will be conducted with members of the sugarcane industry who have adopted 24 hr/day harvesting to better understand the logistics and safety issues that have been encountered in that industry. The outcome of this paper will help further define the goals of this program. As a part of this work, preliminary discussions are occurring to determine the need for a stochastic modeling environment for resource utilization.

Virtual Grove Environment
A significant challenge associated with nighttime harvesting for both logistics planners, and operators in the field is keeping track of other equipment, monitoring field conditions, and avoiding dangerous obstacles, which can be easily seen in the day. It is proposed to begin work on a virtual environment, which will help operators stay alert for changing field conditions, and logistics planners track equipment in the field. The system will rely on devices such as machine vision, laser radar, RFID, DGPS, and wire-less technologies to spatially locate equipment in the field. A virtual environment can then be used to monitor equipment locations, and dangerous field conditions such as irrigation ditches. This technology will be especially beneficial to goat drivers who must transport harvested fruit from the MH system to roadside. During the first year we will develop a fundamental virtual environment, and initiate exploration of technologies required for creating a grove virtual environment.


  1. A series of interviews are being conducted with growers, harvesting contractors, trucking companies, juice processors and packinghouse managers to access the impact that multiple shift mechanical harvesting would have on the industry. Once the interview process is complete, an issues paper will be prepared.
  2. Preliminary concepts are being formulated for the development of a stochastic modeling environment for optimizing resource utilization in the citrus harvesting process. This work will be done in conjunction with an economics model.
  3. Sensing technology and computer software development is currently underway to enable a scouting-based virtual reality representation of the grove environment, which may be useful for harvesting efficiency, safety, machine tracking, and utilization modeling reasons. This technology should have applications for mechanical and robotic harvesting, as well as for disease and pest scouting.

For more information

Reza Ehsani
Fritz Roka

Visits since 05/21/2014