The Problem of Fruit Picking
Fruit collection accounts for about half the price of production, whether by hand (most countries) or by machine.
Manual collection is the norm in most parts of the world. Migrant workers must be qualified and be present in the short period of fruit ripening. The task is risky, since most of the time the collector should be standing on a ladder, carrying several kilos of fruit. The costs of the current workforce in developed countries ($1,000 per month - September 2012) is too high for our fruit to be competitive in international markets. The same happens in many other countries.
We are growing trees with a press applied to the base of the trunk. This press forms a narrowing and a compensatory enlargement in the trunk. The modified trees are easily shaken and do not suffer damage by mechanical or manual shaking. We will apply devices to several species of trees, in different stages of growth. The devices will be applied to trunks but also to branches, the latter for faster data collection.
We will measure the growth of the tree, the size of the canopy, the fruit yield, the flexibility of the trunk and the required shaking that produces optimal fruit picking. Some trees will be used for destructive assays. We will use a vehicle, a chain and a dynamometer to measure the force that breaks a tree, with or without modification. The modified trees will be also be tested with or without the press. We have resources to measure the fluid flow and volume in trunks or branches, to complete the model of tree growth.
We will produce a mathematical model of the tree modification. We will include these factors, among others:
- size and type of the device
- age of the tree at the first incorporation of a press
- size of the tree (trunk, modified part of the trunk, branches, canopy) at different stages of the experiment
- resistance of the trunk to wind
- economic factors (cost of the press, cost of the press application and removal, shaking).
We will compare modified with normal trees. We expect that once farmers realize how the fruit collection is facilitated, they will adopt the invention.
Use of the requested funding
We will buy young trees and plant them in the experimental field belonging to the University of Buenos Aires. We will pay a technician that will care for the trees, apply the presses and make different required measurements. We will mantain our web presence and publish the parcial results, keeping contact with the scientific community, the tree growers and the possible customers or partners.
- Sergio Samoilovich, Ph.D., is the team leader.
- Several Agronomic Engineers from the University of Buenos Aires, School of Agronomy, are participating.
- The Dean of the Faculty supports the project.
- Students that can take measures of the trees.
- Engineers that can perform yield and breakage tests.
- School of Agronomy of the University of Buenos Aires
- Fruit tree plantations at the Experimental Field of the University of Buenos Aires.
Project outcome and impact of result
We will plant a significant amount of trees, modify them leaving enough controls, and collect data. The plantation will be open for scientists and possible customers.
We will donate fruit to several charities in order to show off our potential.
We will conduct an aggressive marketing campaign in order to bring the attention of potential patent licensees, farmers or other clients.
We will patent the product and the methods in several countries.
We will sell presses, licenses to manufacture and use the presses, the know-how to obtain a good result from the presses and patent licences for each of the countries where we have patent protection.