Priva Developing Deleafing Robot For Tomatoes

Priva Tomato Deleafing Robot
When the Priva robot finds a leaf, it removes it with a cutting module specially mounted on a robot arm.

A few years ago, Priva faced a difficult request from its Dutch customers who grew tomatoes: to develop a robot that could remove leaves from tomato plants in the greenhouse completely independent of human assistance. They were looking for a robot that would mimic the performance of a human, but was also economically viable. Nobody had yet been able to design and market such a robot.

Now, with input from this group of growers, Priva has developed such a device and is using it as the foundation for automating various crop procedures in the greenhouse. Deleafing is only one of the applications, and the tomato is only one of the crops.

The lowest leaves of each plant are regularly removed in tomato growing to promote ripening. This process is called deleafing or leaf cutting, depending on the method used. Two to three leaves per plant are removed during this procedure, which is usually performed weekly by growers.

The fundamental challenge of automated deleafing is to identify the right leaves in a sea of green, and to remove them carefully within a short period of time. It is important that the leaf is removed as close to the stem as possible to prevent diseases such as botrytis from occurring in the crop.

Because every plant is different and light conditions always change, stringent requirements need to be met. For this reason, Priva developed a state-of-the-art vision-type technology. When the robot finds a leaf, it removes it with a cutting module specially mounted on a robot arm. The design of the robot arm and the cutting module is as compact as possible to allow the machine to move through the crop without damaging it. The components are designed to effectively resist contamination and the damaging effects of tomato sap.

To be economically viable, the robot must remove a large number of leaves per hour. This means the robot arm has to move quickly, and the vision technologies must determine the position of the leaves quickly and reliably.

The point of reference is the current level of labor costs. Throughout the project, Priva continuously monitored the robot to determine if using it was economically viable. Testing inside the greenhouse played a big role in this.

The unique collaboration between Priva and its grower customers has been central to the project. On the one hand, there are growers who realize that labor eventually becomes a limiting factor for the performance of their business, and that the development of new technologies can prevent this. On the other hand, there are suppliers who share the same vision and do not shy away from taking on what is a high-risk challenge. All parties are investing in the deleafing robit, with about half of the Dutch tomato acreage involved. The development is further made possible thanks to a number of subsidy regulations and both local and national sponsors.

In addition to the investment agreements, the parties also agreed that revenues from the deleafing robot would flow back to all investors. Exchanging know-how is an important element for bringing the development to a successful outcome. Thus the growers, for example, are playing a crucial role in guaranteeing the practical applicability of the robot.

Over the course of time, various designs have been developed and tested. One important milestone was the time at which actual leaves could be removed from a plant with a test model. The initial results were impressive; however, the cutting quality and speed of the test model were still too low to be economically viable.

It became necessary to adapt the design. Following some preparatory research and a second test model, a prototype was developed with the potential to be both technically and economically successful. This prototype was extensively tested in practical conditions. Important parameters such as cutting quality, speed, and effectiveness now meet expectations, according to Priva. As a result, the project has moved into the next phase. Currently, manufacturer VDL, on behalf of Priva, is building an initial production series of the deleafing robot. These first robots will be deployed amongst a number of participating Dutch growers this year.

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Priva Developing Deleafing Robot For Tomatoes

More From Equipment...
GGS Cannabis Production

April 19, 2017

Suppliers Can Offer Technical Solutions for New Cannabis Growers

Here’s a look at how a few manufacturers have partnered with growers to make their transition into cannabis a smooth one, whether it’s through hands-on guidance or partnering with other industry leaders.

Read More
LumiGrow Growers Council

April 17, 2017

LumiGrow’s Latest Lighting Research Highlighted in Grower Event, Upcoming Webinar

Industry leaders representing a broad range of vegetable, floriculture, and cannabis producers gathered to learn how to implement modern lighting strategies for their own production.

Read More
Venlo Greenhouse (Westbrook Greenhouse Systems Ltd.)

April 13, 2017

AmericanHort’s Production Technology Conference To Debut In October

The AmericanHort Production Technology Conference is designed to give nursery and greenhouse growers a chance to get hands-on with the latest advancements in production technology and explore the return on investment potential of equipment purchases and upgrades.

Read More
Latest Stories
Argus Multi-Feed RM - feature

March 26, 2017

Feeding System Allows For More Precise Delivery of Nutr…

Argus Controls’ Multi-Feed RM100 is designed to help producers custom-feed their plants based on specific nutrient recipes.

Read More
Emerald Coast Growers Seed RoomTight feature

March 22, 2017

An Inside Look at Emerald Coast Growers’ New Seed…

Florida-based liner producer Emerald Coast Growers custom retrofitted and expanded an existing greenhouse, with the goal of increasing production efficiency.

Read More
Pic-O-Mat Vision system feature

March 3, 2017

How Growers Can Make the Most of Automation

A Greenhouse Grower Top 100 Grower says investing in automation can reap several long-term benefits, as long as you do so for the right reasons.

Read More
Visser PC 16 Transplanter feature

February 13, 2017

How to Find a Greenhouse Transplanter for Every Grower&…

Equipment manufacturers have recognized a void in the market for machinery that appeals to growers of all sizes and budgets. Here are some affordable options to consider investing in to improve your operation’s efficiency.

Read More
ISO Cutting Machine

February 4, 2017

Getting to the Next Generation of Greenhouse Automation

The most successful growers in the future will be those that are willing to accept and invest in new technology.

Read More
TopCrop Monitor (Priva) feature

February 2, 2017

The Latest Updates in Greenhouse Environmental Controls

Constant monitoring of your greenhouse climate is critical, especially when you can’t be there in person. Here’s a look at what manufacturers have developed to make this process more efficient and effective.

Read More

February 1, 2017

DRAMM: 75 Years of Innovation

This manufacturer and distributor of horticultural tools and equipment has a long history of developing inventive new technology that solves problems for its customers.

Read More
Botany Lane Greenhouses

January 27, 2017

Why Botany Lane Grows Poinsettias On Capillary Mats

A move to watering mats cut water and fertilizer use, production time, and labor for this Colorado-based grower.

Read More
Ever Bloom Robot Sprayer feature

January 23, 2017

New Automation Systems Improve Spraying and Harvesting

In response to increasing regulations on labor, Ever-Bloom Inc. decided to invest in new automation technology that also dramatically improves efficiency.

Read More
Bouldin and Lawson Precision Needle Seeder feature

January 19, 2017

How You Can Get More Precise With Your Seeder

Bouldin & Lawson’s Precision Needle Seeder is designed to improve accuracy when sowing small, difficult seeds.

Read More
Silver Bullet Heaters (Heat Star By Enerco) Feature

November 28, 2016

The Latest In Greenhouse Heating And Cooling Products

New developments in heating, cooling, ventilation, and humidity control technology are designed to help you manage your greenhouse environment more efficiently. Check out some of the latest offerings from leading manufacturers.

Read More

November 23, 2016

How Greenhouse Technology At North Creek Nurseries Expe…

The new structure is the latest step in a lean flow efficiency process designed to help the company cut waste, drive down shrink, and increase profits.

Read More
Sensaphone alarms system

November 21, 2016

Five Things To Consider Before Purchasing A Greenhouse …

A greenhouse alarm can be the difference between you and a major catastrophe that results in crop losses. Before you make a purchase, take these factors into account.

Read More
LED lights used in greenhouse

November 4, 2016

Evaluating Greenhouse Supplemental Lighting For Young A…

Researchers at Purdue and Michigan State University compare young and finished plant production under LED toplighting and HPS lamps to determine which source is most effective.

Read More

October 18, 2016

Lighting Research Center Is Surveying Growers On Supple…

The Center, part of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is looking for commercial growers to participate in an online survey regarding supplemental greenhouse lighting.

Read More
Chemical hopper

October 3, 2016

New Soil Mix Technology Generates High-Precision Greenh…

Advancements in soil mixers help growers achieve the highest level of automation and efficiency to create the ideal growing media for every type of crop.

Read More
Floricultura Bench Pulling System

July 31, 2016

Automation Saves Labor And Space At Floricultura Pacifi…

This Salinas, CA, orchid grower brings plants to its workers through automation that saves valuable time and takes full advantage of available growing space.

Read More
Harvest Automation HV 100 Feature

May 27, 2016

Harvest Automation Robot Helps You Move Plants Without …

The Harvest Automation HV-100 robot units use lasers and sensors to handle some of the most labor-intensive tasks in the greenhouse.

Read More