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New prototipe of transplanting machine for Strawberry

Gómez A.*, Arias A., Palanco J., Pérez C., Torres M. and Rodríguez M.
R&D Department Adesva – Agroindustry Technological Center Huelva, Lepe (Spain) Introduction
The reduction of traditional in ground strawberry planting cost is the goal of this research. The cultivation in ground is the most normal method in Spain and EEUU; this method use bed of soil covered with a plastic. Approximately 560 million strawberry young plants are being produced in Spain of which currently less than 2% or 7-8 million strawberry plants currently are started in a plug; the remainder is dealt with as bare-root plants. The remainder (500 million+) is the potential market for a new to be developed transplanting machine based on the believe that this new machine will save enough to make it a feasible, economical replacement for the current work based in manhour. The automatization of planting work and the design of a prototype with a new technology is pretended. One of most important thing is get a new planting system for bare-root plant of strawberry. This kind of plant has a more complex manage and mechanization than plug plants. Analogue techniques like used in vegetables are not able for bare-root plant in bed of soil whit plastic, because the culture conditions are very special and there is not a mechanical system that replaces the human work, in same quality conditions. A review of patents of similar machinery has done with no success. This research is based in previous projects developed by Adesva in 2009-2010, a prototype based in planting technologies for vegetables was made and tried in field, with negative results. The quality of plantation was not correct. The prototype obtained is able to replace the human work in an important percentage, saving planting cost in same proportion.

VII International Strawberry Symposium (2012)

Materials and methods
The technical characteristics of prototype are: 1. Planting system for bare-root plants with these characteristics: • No touch the bed plastic, only for put the plant in correct position.  It is not necessary apply soil because the system just put the plant like a human hand.  The planting pattern is symmetrically staggered with longitudinal dimension of 200 mm X 250 mm between two rows of same bed. 2. The planting system can be duplicate in parallel position, thus the machine can be made for plant one bed or more. 3. The in feed plants system is manually, with a table support for the plant boxes. 4. The height limitation is not critical in EEUU, where the greenhouses are not used. But is an important factor in Spain, where the greenhouses are used in all the plantations; it is necessary the machine pass under the macro-tunnel structure. 5. Two workers are necessary for a planting system for each bed. The machine has designed with two working seats, every worker must feed the planting system manually. 6. The prototype has been designed to be tow by a 65 Kw tractor. The research has needed the following activities: Activity 1: a patents report has been made, with similar machinery or planting machinery , in order to get state or art of development in this area of knowledge; and verify null existence of target machine. Activity2: Conceptual design of planting system. This is the critical point in this research because is this system that was a not functional behavior in previous experiences. Activity 3: Design of machine. Design of every parts of machine, classifying in the different functions for each parts. CAD software was needed for this task. Activity 4: Construction of prototype. Activity 5: Trials in orchard to get possible failure or malfunction of different system of prototype. Activity 5: Reengineering of prototype. Activity 6: Final trials in orchard, conformity of prototype in foreseen working conditions. Activity 7: Patent of prototype.

Results and Discussion
A prototype for planting work of strawberry has been obtained. The benefits and good results in cost reduction for a strawberry plantation, in order to the behavior of prototype can be expected. The estimation in man hours reduction is nearly 40-50%. A planting trial was done in 2011; it is necessary check the viability of culture in complete campaign 2011-2012, check the numbers of miss, production reductions or final fruit quality. After the first year we will get enough data of improves of culture and cost reductions. A prototype has been obtained that fulfills the starting requirements and that is possible to make future research: Quality of plantation, miss absence, not productive plants. Study of behavior of plants after work of machine. Quality of fruit, productive efficiency. Economic study to compare manual system versus automatic system. Total cost of planting process will be evaluate, number of persons and performance of prototype. The evaluation of cost comparative study between traditional plantation versus automatic plantation, the surface and economics threshold profitability can be obtained. Make advices about size and shape of bed, limit conditions to work with this machine. Future works can be suggested like a prototype for plug plants. The industrial Project to get a serial production of this prototype will be other future line of development.

We would like to thank Covefex S.A. the access to resources and facilities to develop this project. This project was funded by Andalusian Government through Orden de Agentes del Conocimiento funding program.