White asparagus is one of the most popular vegetables in the Netherlands and in a large part of Europe. They grow on sandy soils, which mainly occur in North Brabant, Limburg and Overijssel. Asparagus are white as long as they are under the ground and change color to green or purple when they emerge above it. By sticking this vegetable just before it comes out of the ground, farmers get the best quality white asparagus and thus the best price.
As a result of the quality selection, the asparagus harvest is mainly manual work and therefore very labor-intensive and expensive. Automation of the harvest proved difficult until now.
Asparagus harvesting robot with four subsystems
Cerscon, a new company, is currently working on a machine to harvest asparagus by machine. Demcon is involved in the mechatronic development of this asparagus harvester. Saxion's Mechatronics research group develops one of the four subsystems of this machine, namely a positioning platform that guides the plug-in mechanism to the right place.
Research into a robust postioning platform
The aim of this research project was to design and build a functional model of the positioning subsystem of the harvester. This functional model must position itself on the basis of the coordinates received from the measuring system. Subsequently, a movement is performed by the stitch unit which releases the asparagus underground and removes it from the bed. Within this sub-project that was carried out by the Mechatronics Research Group, students from Electrotechniek, Werktuigbouwkunde and Mechatronica from Saxion were active. In addition to this subproject, Demcon is also involved in the development of the other subsystems in the harvester.