During last month’s GreenTech 2016, the Priva De-Leafing Robot was introduced to the market. This robot is the first product, worldwide, that provides growers with an economically viable alternative for manual de-leafing of tomato crops. Three major growers from the consortium involved in the development, Lans, Prominent and Vereijken Kwekerijen expressed their commitment and will start working with the robot. The Priva De-Leafing Robot is the first in a series of solutions for automated crop labour in horticulture.
Labour expenses are a particularly large part of the operational costs, but that’s not all. Labour can be unpredictable and for a large number of tasks, finding a motivated workforce to carry out the work is getting much harder. Robotics has the potential to increase the continuity and predictability of daily operations, while keeping the costs at an equal or even lower level.
The robot is best suited for growers that have the ambition to automate crop labour. Because the robot can operate next to the human workforce and can take care of part of the crop labour tasks, it is possible to introduce crop labour automation gradually. The three major growers from the consortium involved in the development, mentioned above, expressed their commitment and will start working with the robot. This makes them the first companies in the world that have introduced fully automated crop labour into their daily operations.
Robotics as a service
The way the de-leafing robot is added to the daily operations, is in fact quite similar to that of the human workforce. Automated de-leafing is offered as a service, enabling growers to profit from the advantages of the product instantly, without a long payback period.
De-leafing tomatoes is only the beginning. This first generation of automated crop labour will lead to more automated solutions, such as different crops and tasks, for example harvesting cucumbers.