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Asparagus harvesting in Germany PDF Εκτύπωση E-mail
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Συντάχθηκε απο τον/την Χρήστος Μπούμπουλης (Christos Boumpoulis)   
Σάββατο, 09 Σεπτέμβριος 2017 19:33




Asparagus harvesting in Germany


Recently, I found out that our asparagus farmers, here in Germany, were facing a shortage of workers for harvesting their crops Therefore, I decided to invent an effective solution to this economic problem.

My engineering design is a robotic harvester with,

  • 3D vision and a LiDar for finding its way between the elevated crowns.

  • Robotic arm with 8 degrees of freedom.

  • 3D vision for the robotic arm.

  • A mechanical hammer unit for efficient penetration of the soil, by the asparagus knife.

  • A rotation mechanism of the robotic arm's camera's couple for avoiding robotic arm's jamming to the steel wires' spacers, which maintain a certain distance between, the plastic covers and the soil.

  • Capability to operate 24/24 hours.

  • Capability to cooperate many of them, within a single farm.

  • Capability, by replacing the robotic arm with another, to harvest strawberries.

Christos Boumpoulis
























It's well known that Germans are crazy about their asparagus. Each spring, every self-respecting German salivates at the thought of cramming as much of the soft white vegetable down his or her gullet as humanly possible. What's less-well-known, however, is that self-respecting Germans would never stoop to harvest the stuff himself. This year, that reluctance is turning into a problem.

According to the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, there's a severe shortage of seasonal laborers from Poland this year, and in some parts of Germany, up to 15 percent of the asparagus harvest will be left to rot in the fields. In 2005, there were almost 220,000 foreign harvest helpers in Germany. This year there are just 178,000. The shortage could also hit fruits and vegetables harvested later in the summer.

"We are missing up to a third of our seasonal laborers," Dietrich Paul, president of the association of asparagus farmers in Lower Saxony, told the Sunday tabloid Bild am Sonntag. "If it continues like this, fruit and vegetable farming in Germany is in trouble."

The problem, say German farmers, is a law pushed through in 2006 which sought to limit the use of seasonal workers from abroad and to increase the number of unemployed Germans working in German fields. Before the law, up to 90 percent of those bringing in the harvest in German fields came from Poland, Romania and other countries in Eastern Europe; the new regulation said the proportion of foreign field laborers should be scaled back to 80 percent.

Germany's continued unwillingness to open its doors completely to workers from the East means has sent many Polish workers to Great Britain, Holland or Spain, where they are allowed to work and live year round. Those countries have opened their labor markets fully to workers from new European Union members (like Poland) -- whereas Germany just extended its restrictions until 2009. Seasonal laborers can stay in Germany for four months each year.

The Agriculture Ministry has rebuffed such criticism by saying the 2006 law was negotiated with Germany's farmers, and if they need more farm help, they can turn to unemployment offices in their region. Newly released figures show the jobless rate in Germany at 9.1%. In theory, at least, some of those workers could join this year's harvest.

If they don't, Germans may have to go easy on the asparagus.


Asparagus bed establishment

Commercial asparagus plantations can be established either by traditional crown planting or by transplanting seedlings. Direct seeding into a permanent location is discouraged because of the difficulty of establishing a stand. If you are planting a large acreage, asparagus crown nurseries offer the opportunity to produce many crowns per acre easily. Generally, ten production acres can be established from the crowns produced in a one-acre nursery. One pound of asparagus seed will produce enough crowns to plant one acre. Asparagus seed with a high germination percentage should be seeded on level ground about one inch deep and spaced about two inches apart within rows. Row width should accommodate machinery to facilitate mechanical digging. A modified potato digger has been used successfully to dig crowns. Generally, single rows spaced about 24 inches apart will allow enough space for large crown production. This spacing scheme requires 130,000 seeds per acre for the planting. An 80-percent recovery of crowns will net approximately enough plant material to plant ten production acres with four feet between rows and one foot between plants within rows. Usually one ounce of asparagus seed contains 500 to 700 seeds.

To grow high quality crowns, obtain seed with a high germination percentage. Plant the seed in sandy soils so crowns can be easily dug and will be relatively free of soil. Apply and incorporate phosphorus and potassium fertilizers prior to seeding the nursery at the rates suggested in Table 2. Apply approximately 50 pounds per acre of nitrogen after the first shoot ferns out, and topdress an additional 50 pounds per acre in midsummer.

The slow rate of germination is a problem with direct seeding. Optimum temperatures for germination range from 77 to 86° F. Although lower soil temperatures slow germination, it is advisable to plant asparagus seed as soon as the soil is workable in the spring. Since the growing season needed to produce large crowns is limited in Minnesota, early spring seeding will allow germination to occur as soon as the soil environment becomes favorable. To prevent infection by soilborne pathogens, asparagus seed should always be treated with fungicides.

Weed control in direct-seeded asparagus presents a second challenge. A few satisfactory preemergence herbicides are labeled for direct-seeded asparagus (see Midwest ). Adjust the rate according to the texture of the soil type. Inevitably, mechanical cultivation is necessary in the nursery. Any cultivation should always be shallow to prevent damage to asparagus roots, which are very near the soil surface. Although mature asparagus is quite drought-tolerant, seed beds are shallow rooted and require constant water management Irrigation should be available on demand.

Asparagus crowns should be dug in early April or before the buds have begun to grow. Old plant tops should be mowed and removed from the field if they interfere with crown digging. A potato digger, peanut digger, or common moldboard plow can be used to lift the asparagus crowns from the nursery row. Avoid injury to the crowns during digging and handling. If dug crowns need to be stored prior to replanting, keep them cool (about 38° F) and dry. High humidity will cause rapid decay. Crowns can become overheated if they are stored in a deep pile. Crowns in storage should be stacked only a foot or so deep. Avoid freezing temperatures in storage, since severe injury or even complete loss is probable.




Spears are hand harvested when they are six to eight inches long. A special pronged knife can be used to cut the spears below the soil surface. or they may be snapped at the soil surface. Cutting must be done carefully to avoid damaging developing spears and the crown below the soil surface. The knife should be placed near the spear, tilted on a 45 degree angle, and directed to cut the spear about two inches below the soil surface. Shoots injured by cutting will not develop properly and should be culled. Spears may be hand snapped just above the soil surface. Snapping severs the spear at the junction between the green tender tissue generally above ground and the white woody tissue below ground. The advantage to cutting spears is that the woody base restricts water loss, which preserves spear quality.

Depending on the planting method, asparagus beds require two to three seasons to become established. Transplants and crowns require two years for establishment before first harvest begins, whereas asparagus started from seed takes three full growing seasons before harvest. During the establishment years, fern growth, plant vigor, and health should be optimized with careful cultural management. For areas with short growing seasons, the USDA recommends a light harvest (two to three weeks) during the first season after plant establishment. A full harvest season of six to eight weeks may begin the following season, although the harvest should be terminated immediately any time spears are reduced to pencil size. Harvesting may have to be performed every two days at the height of the harvest season. Spear emergence greatly increases in response to warm temperatures and slows considerably with cold temperatures.

Overharvesting greatly reduces the vigor of the asparagus plant by seriously draining the sugar reserves in the crown. Remember: next year's yields and profits are determined by how well the asparagus is treated this year.



Note: The photos were found here,





































Τελευταία Ενημέρωση στις Κυριακή, 10 Σεπτέμβριος 2017 00:07