Agriculture today is facing increased demands to reduce production costs, comply to standards and keep a high quality for the produce and safety. Farm management information systems has now evolved into complex systems to support the farmers as a tool for meeting these demands. The systems have advanced with positioning systems and sensors, among others, to collect data and enhance decision making for the farmer. The main aim of this study is on design and implementation of Intelligence harvesting system. This study has investigated how these systems have been developed in the past, how it has helped the farmer, and how design philosophies can help develop the systems further. The methods that were used to investigate were literature reviews from journals about agriculture and electronics and from scientific textbooks about design philosophies. The results were that some of the projects presented had a user-centered approach to the development, but there are little to none information about how user-friendly these systems are. Therefore, it is room for using various design approaches to further develop farm management information systems in the future to ensure a low threshold for investment.
1.1 Background of Study
Ensuring food security has been a global concern throughout human history . Agriculture, which is the upstream food producing sector, is, therefore, in need of new and modern methods to ensure the world’s food security. Traditional agriculture was usually done within a family or a village and human was the main observer of field conditions and the solution provider as problems arose.
However, this traditional method is no longer suitable, because farming outputs depend largely on the natural surrounding conditions (e.g., weather and water) and global warming issues (causing frequent droughts and floods) and crop disease outbreaks are disruptive of farming productivity. Traditional within-group knowledge and human observations alone are not sufficient to battle the issues. Therefore, new methods for farming have been invented, for example, One key idea of new practices in agriculture is the use of technology to measure or monitor field and crop conditions in order for farmers to make informed decisions in various parts of their farming process.
Automated farm harvesting system requires intensive sensing of climatic conditions at the ground level and rapid communication of the raw data to a central repository. At the central server, with the availability of computational power, decision making and control of farm equipment is done. The sensing technologies also allow the identification of maturity date for the produce, drought or increased moisture. Having such information at a real-time interval, automated actuation devices can be used to enhance plant efficiency
1.2 Statementof the Problem
Manual harvesting is a traditional and common method to harvest fruits. Although it is labor intensive, manual harvesting is particularly popular for fruits that have large time windows for optimal maturity or for fruits that are marketed for direct consumption (Sanders, 2005). Historically, manual harvesting has been the preferred method for achieving high-quality control and minimizing tree damage (Benkeblia et al., 2011). Also, manual harvesting is sometimes carried out as a clean-up operation either after the mechanical harvesting or at the end of the harvesting season to pick up the fruits that are left behind (Sanders, 2005).
The major cost concern for manual harvesting is associated with labor. Singerman et al. (2017) performed a survey of 15 harvesting companies that were responsible for harvesting 18% of the total citrus cultivation area in Florida (79,996 acres) to determine the costs associated with manually harvesting various citrus varieties. The average harvesting costs for Florida fresh citrus in 2017 were estimated to be $3.28, $2.65, and $4.46 per box for sweet oranges, grapefruit, and specialty citrus, respectively. The high costs for harvesting specialty citrus fruits, such as tangelos and tangerines, are due to the required extra caution and labor process. The procedure requires workers to clip, pick, and handle these specific fruits carefully due to their thin and easily damageable skin. Citrus in Spain is also harvested manually. Researchers estimated that manual harvesting costs accounted for 29% and 43% of the total direct production cost of oranges and mandarins in Andalucia, respectively (Moreno et al., 2015). Further, researchers from Brazil also showed the labor costs during harvesting represented 44% of the total citrus production cost (Costa and Camarotto, 2012).
Relatively low harvesting efficiency is a crucial problem for manually harvested citrus orchards. Workers normally need to climb up and down the trees with a ladder to pick the fruits that are then delivered to a central packaging facility. In certain cases, time spent on activities other than picking may account for more than 50% of the total working time (Ehsani and Udumala, 2010). Harvesting aids were developed to increase picking efficiency and reduce the time spent in non-picking activities during manual harvesting. For instance, multi-picker positioning platforms were designed to allow groups of pickers to work simultaneously on different positions of a citrus tree (Ehsani and Udumala, 2010). Several companies in the US developed and demonstrated their picking platforms for research in the 1970s. However, none of them proved to be economically feasible because the small improvement in picking rates often did not justify the capital cost of the equipment (Sanders, 2005). Therefore, manual harvesting of citrus is still limited by the comparatively low harvesting rates.
Moving forward, other issues related to decreased labor availability and worker safety concerns may work to increase the prevalence of mechanical citrus harvesting methods due to their ability to minimize on-site worker needs and safety concerns. Reduced harvesting costs are attainable by utilizing an appropriate and efficient mechanical harvesting system (Sanders, 2005).
1.3 Objectives of the study
The main objective of this study is on design and implementation of Intelligence harvesting system
The following are the specific objectives;
- To design an automated system for sensing agricultural parameters for farm harvest
- To design a system capable of transferring data from crop field to control station for decision making
- To automate a system for remainder of farm harvest pre-operation
- To implement a system that will detect the maturity stage of plants readily for harvest
1.4 Significance of the study
This study will help farmers to be able to detect when a plant is available for harvest and also enhance the mechanical efficiency in farming operations.
The study will equally add to the existing body of knowledge on the subject matter. Students undergoing research work similar to the present study who may wish to use this work as a reference material or a spring board for their own work will find this work really useful
1.5 Limitations of the proposed system
The constraints that may hinder me from achieving the objectives of the proposed system within the stipulated time in the project schedule are; time constraints, and lack of adequate programming knowledge.