Fruit Focus :Delivering optimum productivity and efficiency in fruit production is as reliant on having the right equipment as it is on adopting the best husbandry practices. With farming becoming increasingly mechanised, the future of growing fruit lies in the latest technology and machinery.
Keeping on top of the latest innovations in horticulture can be difficult, but with over 120 exhibitors showcasing their latest products, visitors to Fruit Focus are sure to get a great insight into the newest and best technologies.
“Knowing where the future of mechanised horticulture is heading means producers can look at adapting their business to maximise productivity and therefore profit,” says event director Jon Day. “Whether you’re considering increased mechanisation, frost protection, or affordable monitoring equipment, there is something on offer for all. Producers will be able to take away new ideas and products to help their businesses become stronger and more profitable in the years ahead.”
Here is a taste of some of the newest equipment and innovations that will be on show at this year’s Fruit Focus.
Utilising the accessibility of phone applications, the Davis EnviroMonitor system measures, monitors and manages critical in-field data from remote locations through a network of sensors. “Producers can get timely and meaningful information to mobile apps, detailing irrigation management, frost conditions, soil conditions, weather damage and crop management,” explains managing director Jim Copeland. A mesh network of nodes can support multiple sensors, which can be added, removed or relocated with ease. Stand 375.
Maximising the benefits of sprays means having the right equipment to accurately apply the liquid suspension. This year, Micron Group will be showcasing its Enviro range of shrouded sprayers for weed control in fruit and vines. “To fully minimise the risk of spray drift, the Enviro sprayers – available in high pressure nozzle and controlled droplet application (CDA) atomiser versions – incorporate a fully shielded design,” says Haydn Beddows at Micron Group.
On display will be the Undavina and Spraydome models, which feature a freely rotating shield and spring loaded breakaway arm. “This allows users to spray right up to the base of the tree or bush without causing mechanical damage to the target, producing excellent spraying results,” adds Mr Beddows.
Visitors looking for a vehicle mounted solution might consider Turbofan – an air assisted CDA spray head for fungicide and insecticide applications. “Highly suitable for use in soft and top fruit, where good crop penetration is desired, Turbofan features a hydraulically driven rotary atomiser and a built-in axial fan, which produces a powerful yet directed air steam to convey spray to the target,” explains Mr Beddows. A range of hand held sprayers will also be on display. Stand 357.
Tailoring coir substrate selection to an individual growing system can produce great results for growers. “As the UK’s soft fruit industry becomes increasingly hi-tech, crops are predominantly grown under protection and in soilless substrate,” says Thomas Ogden, commercial director at Cocogreen. “Production systems are becoming not only more sophisticated, but often tailored to the particular needs of the grower. To keep up, coir substrates need to become more technically sophisticated as growers are looking for greater consistency and higher performance.”
To help growers optimise the capabilities of its substrates, Cocogreen has launched a product selector tool on its website, which can match substrates to the growing system. The team will be on hand to take visitors through the tool, as well as to showcase Cocogreen’s new mobile tray system for greenhouse strawberry production. Stand 320.
Removing spent strawberry and raspberry crops at the end of a season will be made much easier with the Bio Chopper compact, which will be on show from Brinkman UK. One of a number of machines that Brinkman UK supplies from Holland, ranging from small standard conveyors to a Mega Bio Chopper, they are all capable of pulling in 150m of spent crop, including grow bags.
“The Bio Chopper compact shreds the crop and substrate into pieces 5-6mm in size,” says Glenn Notley, managing director at Brinkman UK This reduces the size of the waste pile by as much as 80%, meaning the crop biodegrades quicker. “The machine can handle coir, peat and plants.” Stand 368.
Measuring moisture content and temperature in soils is key for irrigated crop production. Delta-T Devices is launching the new SM150T soil moisture and temperature sensor which supplies growers with a reliable and cost-effective sensor for system integrators. “A duel-purpose sensor, it can be used portably, with a readout meter, or left installed in the soil, connected to a logger,” says Dr John Newstead at Delta-T Devices. It is compatible with a wide range of loggers and can withstand long-term burial.
Visitors will also be able to see Delta-T Devices’ new WET sensor, which supplies fast and accurate root zone moisture, temperature and water electrical conductivity measurements. “It is able to take hundreds of substrate readings each day, to guide fertigation decisions, helping to establish and maintain optimal growing conditions,” explains Dr Newstead. It also minimises root and structural disturbance due to its sharp high-grade steel rods. “Precise control of fertigation is critical to maximise yield and quality. WET sensor calibrations are available for growers using coir, peat, mineral wool and potting soils.” Stand 6.
Produce packers are increasingly looking to raise line speeds to more than 140 punnets per minute, while at the same time significantly reducing manning levels. Weighing and adjusting every pre-filled punnet, whether direct from the field or pre-packed by overseas suppliers, is simply no longer viable. With rising wage costs, packers need to automate and increase productivity to maintain profitability.
Aja’s high-speed pre-seal checkweigher and re-work station can provide a solution. Automatically weighing to legislation requirements, pre-filled punnets are loaded onto the high-speed line, which feeds directly into the Aja C80 checkweighing system. Any under- or over-weight packs are diverted across the Aja Slide Carrier Platen Rejector, where one or two operators can adjust the packs to the legal requirement.
Each C80 system is customised to meet the demands of different applications from fruits to salads and vegetables. Stand 525
Particularly pertinent for vine growers this year, N. P Seymour will be showcasing the AgroFrost range, including the Revolution. This is a smaller, lighter and more economical version of the Frostguard, which has revolutionised top and soft fruit and vine frost protection in Chile, the USA and across Europe. It prevents the damaging effects frost can have on the fruit bud by increasing the temperature in the orchard, tunnel or vineyard. The machine works by burning gas to provide a heated air supply, which is then blown by a fan, across the orchard or into the end of the tunnel, covering between 0.7ha and 1ha.
N. P. Seymour will also be demonstrating the Fendt driverless tractor with the Precision Makers add-on package. This fully autonomous tractor works on a ‘teach and playback’ system. Operators simply record a task as they carry it out and the machine remembers every movement and operation. It can be replayed time and time again.
Already known for manufacturing and supplying high quality coir products, Botanicoir is set to launch its latest innovative product at Fruit Focus. Taking the use of coir substrates to the next level, the product is capable of rapid hydration, has optimum air-filled porosity, offers a super structure and drainage capacity and ease of steering the crop into generative growth. Sand 302.
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