Good Fruit Grower

August 1

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20 AUGUST 2015 Good Fruit Grower A system for weighing buckets of cherries in the field, which was developed by Washington State University scientists, is making its debut in commercial orchards. The FairWeigh system enables growers to pay cherry pickers for the precise amount of fruit they pick. The scientists called it FairWeigh because it's a fairer system for both pickers and growers than paying per bucket. Buckets typically have a capacity of around 20 pounds but might be under- or overfilled. Dr. Matt Whiting, horticulturist at WSU, developed the system with Dr. Yiannis Ampatzidis, a former postdoctoral scientist in Prosser, as part of a four-year research project to develop a sustainable, highly efficient production and marketing system for sweet cherries. "This way, it doesn't matter how much fruit you have in your buckets, you're going to get paid for what you pick," Whiting said. "If you bring in 15 pounds because it's convenient for you to bring your bucket to the check station now, you get paid for 15 pounds. If you bring in 22 pounds, you're going to get paid for 22 pounds." Similarly, growers don't have to overpay for buckets that contain less than 20 pounds. And checkers love the system because they can focus on monitoring the quality of the cherries picked, rather than on whether the buck- ets are being completely filled or not. Whiting said he and Ampatzidis designed the system as a research tool because they needed to measure and compare the efficiency of pickers in different orchard and harvesting systems. They conducted the research in orchards of collaborating growers. After the first year, growers and managers started to see potential for using a weighing device in commercial cherry harvesting. The initial concept was to weigh cherry bins on a large platform-type scale that was pulled around the orchard by a four-wheeler. Pickers wore radio-frequency identi- fication (RFID) tags, which they scanned as they added their bucket of fruit to the bin. The system was gradually refined, and the latest version involves weighing fruit in the picking buckets before it is dumped into the bin. The bucket-weighing version is much lighter and can be wheeled from one bin to the next by the checker. It has been designed to be field-rugged, with a liquid-crystal display (LCD) for easy readability outdoors. Every transaction is saved on an internal secure digital (SD) card. A receipt is immediately printed in the field showing the weight of the fruit, picker identification, date and time, and cumulative weight that the employee has picked that day. Data are then transferred to the payroll computer and uploaded. A Global Positioning System (GPS) module, which was used on the prototypes, is an option. Whiting and Ampatzidis (now assistant professor in engineering at California State University in Bakersfield) teamed up with Dr. Mark DeKlein at WSU's Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems in Prosser to form a partnership called MYM Technologies to com- mercialize the system. They received a $40,000 grant from WSU's Office of Commercialization to take the prototype to market. Automated Ag Systems of Moses Lake makes the frames, Manufacturing Services in the Tri-Cities makes the electronic components, and MYM assembles the parts. The partners have been testing the system for three years and demonstrating it to growers. FairWeigh for FAIR PAY Harvest WSU develops in-the-field weighing system for picking buckets. by Geraldine Warner PHOTOS COURTESY OF MATT WHITING, WSU Pickers at an Allan Brothers orchard in the Yakima Valley place their buckets of cherries on the scale so they can be paid for the weight of the fruit. Pickers wear RFID tags that are scanned so they are credited for the cherries they pick. Portable Wind Machines standard Honda engine Noise machine Mobile Affordable Distributed in the US by Contact us for more information or to place an order: 206.437.8738 New 2015 Model – galvanized for greater durability pruning or to prevent sunburn and splitting – cool/dry before harvest, – easy to move with a tractor or truck and then raise the arm for immediate operation Make sure you have the wind protection you need when you need it! – protects up to 10 acres – low operation costs – makes half the noise of any other wind – 1.5 gallons of fuel per hour – lower boom to safely service the Frost Protection Evaporative Cooling High Performance Service

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