Tag Archives: Machine Harvesting

Washington State University study: Hand- versus machine-harvested juice and cider apples: A comparison of phenolic profiles

1 Sep

James Thorne wrote in the Geek Wire article, Apple-picking robots gear up for U.S. debut in Washington state:

Next fall, as you browse the produce section at your local grocery store, pay close attention to the apples. You might be witnessing American history.
For the first time, some of the apples sold in the U.S. will be picked by a robot rather than human hands. That’s thanks to agricultural automation startup Abundant Robotics, the maker of apple harvesting machines that will partake in Washington state’s next harvest.
“This will be the first season that we’re actually ready to harvest commercially,” said Abundant CEO Dan Steere. “It’s incredibly exciting.”
Abundant’s picker has more in common with a really smart Hoover vacuum than a human hand. The robot moves down rows of orchards and uses artificial intelligence with a dash of LIDAR to search for ripe apples. Once spotted, a robotic arm with a vacuum gently sucks the apples from the tree into a bin.
The achievement is owed to advances not only in machine learning and robotics but also in agriculture. The architecture of apple trees has evolved over the decades, and it’s now common to grow them on trellises like you would tomatoes or cucumbers. Modern apple trees are also smaller, derived from dwarf varietals that yield more per acre and produce fruit more quickly after being planted.
These horticultural leaps have allowed farmers to double their apple yields. They’ve also made the job of picking easier for humans and, now, for robots.
Karen Lewis, a tree fruit specialist at Washington State University who has worked with Abundant and other robotics startups, said that apple trees have reached a “sweet spot” for robotic harvesting. Orchards are now sufficiently uniform and predictable for machines to reliably pick fruit, and canopies are narrow enough for sunlight, the human eye and vision systems to penetrate.
Tech companies that are successful in agriculture, she said, are the ones that listen to what farmers need. “We’re not going to let technology be the driver here. Horticulture needs to be the driver.” https://www.geekwire.com/2019/apple-picking-robots-gear-u-s-debut-washington-state/

There are at least two issues regarding mechanical harvesting. The first is whether mechanical harvesting damages crops or results is lesser quality of the final product quality. The second is whether employment in agriculture will decline.

Science Daily reported in Hand- versus machine-harvested juice and cider apples: A comparison of phenolic profiles:

A study out of Washington State University sought to determine if there is a measurable impact of harvest method on the phenolic profile of ‘Brown Snout’ juice and cider to better inform equipment adoption.
Travis Alexander, Thomas Collins, and Carol Miles also evaluated whether different extraction methods would yield differing output in either quantity or quality of ‘Brown Snout’ apple juice and cider. Their comprehensive findings are illustrated in their article, “Comparison of the Phenolic Profiles of Juice and Cider Derived from Machine- and Hand-Harvested ‘Brown Snout’ Specialty Cider Apples in Northwest Washington” as found in the open-access journal HortTechnology, published by the American Society for Horticultural Science.
Phenolics are secondary metabolites that have attracted increasing interest in science and industry in recent years due to their beneficial health effects, primarily for their antioxidant properties. They have been proven to act as reducing agents to free radicals. Phenolics contribute significantly to the sensory profile of fermented cider, especially in those made from cider apple fruit. “Phenolics can impact the pressing of fruit, the clarification of juice, the maturation of cider, and final cider quality, including the attributes of aroma, color, taste, and mouthfeel. And so, we wanted to determine if there was a change in phenolics due to harvest method” stated Collins….’
To carry out their research, Miles said they planted a block of ‘Brown Snout’ apple trees on a low trellis system so that trees were a suitable size to fit the over-the-row small fruit harvester. Each of the eight main plots consisted of an average of nine trees. When the fruit was fully ripe, harvesting was divided equally between hand harvesting by four relatively unskilled agricultural workers and machine harvest by an over-the-row small fruit harvester. When application of the two harvest methods was complete, equal qualities of ‘Brown Snout’ apples were randomly selected from each yield supply for further evaluation.
The selected fruit were pressed separately and fermented and allowed to mature for 5 months before final assessments were conducted. At that time, the researchers determined that harvest method and duration of storage were nonsignificant for all parameters measured on juice and cider samples.
Over-the-row machine harvesting resulted in a final product of similar quality at reduced labor costs, and thus shows potential for increasing the commercial sustainability of cider apple operations.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190830162305.htm

Citation:

Hand- versus machine-harvested juice and cider apples: A comparison of phenolic profiles
Machine-harvested apples offer cost-effective option for growers and cider makers
Date: August 30, 2019
Source: American Society for Horticultural Science
Summary:
Study conducted to determine if there is a measurable impact of harvest method on the phenolic profile of ‘Brown Snout’ juice and cider to better inform equipment adoption. Over-the-row machine harvesting resulted in a final product of similar quality at reduced labor costs, and thus shows potential for increasing the commercial sustainability of cider apple operations.

Journal Reference:
Travis R. Alexander, Thomas S. Collins, Carol A. Miles. Comparison of the Phenolic Profiles of Juice and Cider Derived from Machine- and Hand-harvested ‘Brown Snout’ Specialty Cider Apples in Northwest Washington. HortTechnology, 2019; 29 (4): 423 DOI: 10.21273/HORTTECH04342-19

Here is the press release from American Society for Horticultural Science:

NEWS RELEASE 30-AUG-2019
Hand- versus machine-harvested juice and cider apples: A comparison of phenolic profiles
Machine-harvested apples offer cost-effective option for growers and cider makers
AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR HORTICULTURAL SCIENCE
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MOUNT VERNON, WASHINGTON–Hand-harvested versus Machine-harvested Juice and Cider Apples: A Comparison of Phenolic Profiles
A study out of Washington State University sought to determine if there is a measurable impact of harvest method on the phenolic profile of ‘Brown Snout’ juice and cider to better inform equipment adoption.
Travis Alexander, Thomas Collins, and Carol Miles also evaluated whether different extraction methods would yield differing output in either quantity or quality of ‘Brown Snout’ apple juice and cider. Their comprehensive findings are illustrated in their article, “Comparison of the Phenolic Profiles of Juice and Cider Derived from Machine- and Hand-Harvested ‘Brown Snout’ Specialty Cider Apples in Northwest Washington” as found in the open-access journal HortTechnology, published by the American Society for Horticultural Science.
Phenolics are secondary metabolites that have attracted increasing interest in science and industry in recent years due to their beneficial health effects, primarily for their antioxidant properties. They have been proven to act as reducing agents to free radicals. Phenolics contribute significantly to the sensory profile of fermented cider, especially in those made from cider apple fruit. “Phenolics can impact the pressing of fruit, the clarification of juice, the maturation of cider, and final cider quality, including the attributes of aroma, color, taste, and mouthfeel. And so, we wanted to determine if there was a change in phenolics due to harvest method” stated Collins.
“The ‘Brown Snout’ specialty cider apple is desired by cider makers for its relatively high levels of phenolics, and over-the-row machine harvesting of ‘Brown Snout’ has been demonstrated to provide similar yield to hand harvest at a significantly lower cost” says Alexander.
To carry out their research, Miles said they planted a block of ‘Brown Snout’ apple trees on a low trellis system so that trees were a suitable size to fit the over-the-row small fruit harvester. Each of the eight main plots consisted of an average of nine trees. When the fruit was fully ripe, harvesting was divided equally between hand harvesting by four relatively unskilled agricultural workers and machine harvest by an over-the-row small fruit harvester. When application of the two harvest methods was complete, equal qualities of ‘Brown Snout’ apples were randomly selected from each yield supply for further evaluation.
The selected fruit were pressed separately and fermented and allowed to mature for 5 months before final assessments were conducted. At that time, the researchers determined that harvest method and duration of storage were nonsignificant for all parameters measured on juice and cider samples.
Over-the-row machine harvesting resulted in a final product of similar quality at reduced labor costs, and thus shows potential for increasing the commercial sustainability of cider apple operations.
###
The complete article is available on the ASHS HortTechnology electronic journal web site: https://journals.ashs.org/horttech/view/journals/horttech/29/4/article-p423.xml. DOI: https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTTECH04342-19 . Or you may contact Travis Alexander of Washington State University at travis.alexander@wsu.edu or call him at (360) 848-6120.
Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticulture research, education, and application. More information at ashs.org.
Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.
David Meyer wrote in the Fortune article, Robots May Steal As Many As 800 Million Jobs in the Next 13 Years:
A new study by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that between 400 million and 800 million of today’s jobs will be automated by 2030.
The research adds fresh perspective to what is becoming an increasingly concerning picture of the future employment landscape. “We’re all going to have to change and learn how to do new things over time,” institute partner Michael Chui told Bloomberg.
In the U.S., it seems it’s the middle class that has the most to fear, with office administrators and construction equipment operators among those who may lose their jobs to technology or see their wages depressed to keep them competitive with robots and automated systems…. https://fortune.com/2017/11/29/robots-automation-replace-jobs-mckinsey-report-800-million/

 

Think not of yourself as the architect of your career but as the sculptor. Expect to have to do a lot of hard hammering and chiseling and scraping and polishing.-
B.C. Forbes

Resources:

In Praise of Short-Term Thinking
For hundreds of years, economic observers have feared that machines were making human workers obsolete. In a sense, they’ve been right. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/09/jobs-automation-technological-unemployment-history/403576/

Will robots and AI take your job? The economic and political consequences of automation                                               https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2018/04/18/will-robots-and-ai-take-your-job-the-economic-and-political-consequences-of-automation/

Will machines eventually take on every job?              http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150805-will-machines-eventually-take-on-every-job

Every study we could find on what automation will do to jobs, in one chart: There are about as many opinions as there are experts. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/610005/every-study-we-could-find-on-what-automation-will-do-to-jobs-in-one-chart/

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