If everything goes according to plan, gerbera growers will be the first floriculturists with a harvesting robot that can drive through the greenhouse autonomously and perform all sorts of tasks. Chances of the project being successful are quite high. There’s one important decision that still needs to be made, though. Should this robot pick or cut?
The gerbera harvesting robot is carefully making its way around the nursery of Holstein Flowers in De Lier. It isn’t working autonomously yet, but it can recognise a flower, follow the stem downwards and harvest – with the help of researcher Menno Sytsma.
The idea for a harvesting robot came from the committee that worked on the Havatec sorting machine fifteen years ago. The research project is supported by the crop cooperative Gerbera of Glastuinbouw Nederland.
“Gerbera is a labour-intensive product”, explains chairman Hans van Holstein. “The flowers are harvested individually, gathered in in bunches and then taken apart again when they reach the processing hall. It would be great if we could automate the harvesting process.”
At the average gerbera nursery, labour accounts for a third of the total business costs. Van Holstein says there are still enough workers, but he also indicates that labour is generally getting more and more expensive and harder to find.
The research project for the gerbera harvesting robot started in the beginning of 2020 and will run for four years (..).
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