Steyr Multi 4100 on the mud path

Steyr Multi 4100 on the mud path

Another interesting development pioneered in France is the robotic approach to harvesting tree fruit like apples and oranges where the mature fruit is selected by machine vision using light reflectance, picked mechanically by the robot and conveyed pneumatically (under vacuum) to a storage pallet. Whether these exciting but expensive technologies can be successfully commercialized remains to be seen. Gantry mechanization (including harvesting) of fruits and vegetables in greenhouses has also been investigated but cost remains a difficult factor to overcome.

Because mechanization of harvesting is directly dependent on labor costs, it is rarely profitable in low-wage countries. The higher the control intensity of the operation, the higher must labor costs be to warrant using a machine. Crop husbandry. Weeding and cleaning of crops, fields, and orchards are control-intensive operations. In animal systems, people go on weeding by hand long after the introduction of the plow and cart-until rising wages make herbicides profitable.

Transport von 5m Käferholz zum PolterplatzFor these reasons (environmental enhancement, sustainability) intensive research and development in renewable fuels (including oilseed oils and alcohols) continues and has lead to a small number of commercial applications in niche markets. The future market for renewable fuel use is difficult to predict but will remain an active issue in the continuing debate on alternative fuels for vehicles including agricultural vehicles. Finally, the use of on-farm generated electricity, as opposed to that purchased from a utility, is discussed below (see also, Agriculture and Autonomous Power Supply).

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Typically, harvesting represents the final stage of crop production at field level and essentially brings the farming season to a close. In many cases, harvesting is the most labor intensive farm operation and not infrequently associated with the drudgery of rural life. The development of machines that could successfully harvest most if not all agricultural crops has been greeted with enthusiasm. And yet challenges remain.

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