Equipment/Technology

A better estimate of the net yield of seed potatoes with vision techniques

Growers of seed potatoes would like to know on which part of their parcel the potatoes grow best, and how the location influences the size of the potatoes.

But during harvest, hundreds of potatoes will roll into the harvesting machine at the same time. Wageningen University & Research is working with Aeres Hogeschool, the University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Green Campus and several growers to study how this yield can be measured by using vision techniques.

Counting and measuring with cameras

Wageningen University & Research, Aeres University of Applied Sciences, the University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Green Campus and several growers are investigating the application of vision techniques on the harvesting machine.

The potatoes are counted and measured using camera techniques. The software must thereby determine what a potato is, and what for example a clod of earth. With this, WUR already has experience: for example, it is possible to predict diseases with cameras. But the potatoes have a speed of a few kilometres per hour and pass by hundreds at a time, often dressed in a jacket of sand.

How many potatoes per meter

Seed potatoes are used as plant material for the cultivation of potatoes. Because there are considerable price differences per size sorting, it is important for growers to know how many potatoes are harvested per meter, and how big the potatoes are. After all, those variables determine the sales price and quality. Moreover, these data provide insight into the effect of cultivation measures.

However, there is not yet a good way to count the potatoes during harvesting by size; only the gross weight can be measured. That means that not only the potatoes, but also sand and clods are weighed.

In addition, growers are mainly interested in net yields, ie numbers and dimensions. This information should be linked to a specific location, so that the grower knows which part of the plot produces how many potatoes.

Project Precision technology

The project ‘Precision technological development in seed potatoes‘ is currently in the preparatory phase. This autumn the first test set-up on a harvesting machine will be investigated. The research will be finished in 2021. The project is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

This article was first published by Wageningen University and Research. Go here to read the article on the WUR website where further detail is published