In the mechanised agricultural equipment market there are only a few machines that can be adapted for the tasks performed in the traditional olive grove. For that reason, the Interprofessional has spent years pushing for the development of harvesting and pesticide application equipment to help solve this problem. In the case of harvesting, the University of Cordoba, with the support of several companies is developing various commercial equipment designs that be controlled by a single operator, reducing costs. 6 lines of work are being developed on this ambitious project coordinated by Professor Gil Ribes. Each line will produce several prototypes and these will be completed by the end of 2015.
Lines 1 and 2 are developing prototypes for olive harvesting based on canopy and trunk shakers. In the first case it is a modification of a canopy shaker designed initially for the harvesting of citrus fruits. The equipment is mounted on a platform that collects, cleans and stores the olives in a sack and produces a high level of olive detachment from the tree. Trunk shaker based harvesters are designed for intensive olive production and provide an integrated solution to the problem of olive collection. They are considering elevated, self propelled machines and robotic solutions. The third line of work complements the previous approach, with improved trunk grip systems and materials in order to minimize possible tree damage. Lines 4 and 5 are working on the design, development and construction of prototype equipment to optimize the application of pesticides to the tree canopy, and to optimize the application of herbicide to the soil and the control and management of cover crops both in traditional and intensive olive groves. The team are working on various models of mist blowers and manual sprayers specially designed for this type of work.
The 6th line is working on the adaptation of the trees to the harvesting prototypes and an evaluation of drift produced by pesticide application equipment.