CA (ON): Mastering greenhouse efficiency with robotics

Vineland’s Robotics & Automation team — comprised of 5 PhDs and 6 engineers who work closely with a biology team — is currently working on a wide spectrum of projects that will improve a number of efficiencies in the greenhouse, possibly changing the way we think of greenhouse growing and packaging.

Robotics and automation both entail a variety of projects at Vineland, and though diverse in nature and complexity, they’re all in the name of increasing yield and/or reducing costly resources, thus increasing revenue. With improved results and increased profits for growers, benefits will ultimately pass on to consumers. It’s all about finding cost-effective solutions, explains Dr. Avigad.

“Incorporating automation in horticulture production can increase growers’ revenue through savings in labour, energy and water usage and increased yield,” shared Dr. Avigad. “Success depends on the mutual effort of researchers, engineers, horticulture production experts, industrial manufacturing companies and the growers, themselves. This collaboration can offer cost-effective technologies that support the growth of the Canadian horticulture industry and open the way to worldwide technology commercialization.”

One of the projects using automation for improved efficiency is the automatic packaging of cucumbers, tomatoes and potted plants. Automation provides better consistency, with a system that can monitor inconsistencies and act accordingly. These are repetitive, simpler tasks, working in large quantities. Vineland’s several packaging projects are expected to be in commercialization later this year – the automatic packaging of potted plants is almost ready, in its pre-commercialization stage. The impact of the automation projects specifically focuses on reducing labour; these are engineering projects that automate labour-intensive work.

Read more at Food and Farming

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