EU-funded scientists are designing and building an autonomous harvester for coppice plantations.
The fast-growing trees of short-rotation coppice (SRC) have the potential to help meet growing demand for biomass in the EU. However, automated and cost-effective harvesting methods are needed.
The 'Automatic harvesting system for SRC nurseries' (ROD-PICKER) initiative was set up to address this need. The project aims to develop a fully automated harvesting, sorting and packaging system for SRC farmers.
Researchers have compiled and distributed a questionnaire in several EU states to understand user requirements for an autonomous SRC harvester. This information was used as a starting point for the design of a prototype system.
This design comprises three modules: the cutting or harvesting unit, the sorting and packaging unit, and the monitoring and control unit. ROD-PICKER is currently completing the design phase.The next step will be to build and test a prototype. Researchers expect the final product to dramatically decrease harvesting time and running costs for SRC farmers, and to contribute to sustainable biomass production.
Provided by Cordis