Enhancing Oregon broccoli and cauliflower competitiveness by improving harvest efficiency (2016)

Research report to the Oregon Processed Vegetable Commission

PI Peter Mes
P&R Seeds LLC

Executive Summary

Oregon vegetable processors are in need of improvements to the cost of harvesting broccoli and cauliflower, along with improvements to the quality of the vegetables being processed. The objective of this research project is to develop autonomous, mechanical harvesting solutions for the broccoli and cauliflower producer. This work is complementary to Oregon State University development of a new broccoli hybrid developed specifically for automated mechanical harvest.

Current harvest methods rely on manual field labor, with minimal automation and mechanization. P&R Seeds, working in conjunction with Oregon State University and the FIRST Robotics team 955,from Crescent Valley High School, has worked to implement new camera-controlled computer ‘vision’ technology for use in the vegetable harvesting process. The robotics team, working with P&R Seeds, has worked to develop a prototype system which can be used for facilitating automation of harvest for broccoli and cauliflower. Two different prototypes were tested in the lab, and one was field tested at the year’s end to demonstrate the viability of the technology in mechanizing vegetable harvest. These prototypes will be used to facilitate development of a full-scale commercially viable field harvester in the coming years.