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Funds from the Washington Red Raspberry Commission have made this innovation page possible.

Washington Red Raspberry Commission

Berry Innovation

Farmers have always been innovators, tweeking machinery and making things work better. Today, many companies are finding ways to automate farming practices, from a slightly better tractor to robotic harvesters. GPS (locations) and GIS (programing) are being used to remotely drive tractors and to map irrigation needs or disease hot spots in a field. Consumer concerns make traceability important, and keeping up with new cultivars and new ways to farm just makes sense.

Click on a titled bar below to open or close the list of articles concerning those topics. Updated June 13, 2013

Tractors, Sprayers, Harvesters

Blueberry grower sees benefits in mechanical harvesting: Jerry Alamwala, a blueberry grower in Lyndon, WA, has been harvesting blueberries on his farm mechanically for about 10 years. Alamwala’s machines of choice are Korvans from Oxbo. Growing Produce ~ March 2010

New products introduced: The World Ag Expto was held in Tulare, CA, in April. More than 1600 exhibitors were there. The on-line article highlights some of the products that could be interesting for fruit growers. Growing Produce ~ April 2010

BEI ramps up blueberry-picking innovation: Drop-tray technolgy for catching fruit as if falls off bushes and a new system that picks fruit without touching blueberry branches are part of the company&##39;s recent success. MLive.com ~ September 2009

Strong Roots: new irrigation system makes significant improvements in Washington grower&##39;s berry crops: Blueberry crops thrived this year at Sakuma Brothers due partly to the enhanced quality system now in place. Growing Produce ~ May 2009.

Breakthrough in strawberry harvesting: A prototype of a low cost commercial robotic harvester that will be able to harvest strawberries, 24 hours per day in all weather conditions is now nearing completion in Australia. The Land ~ May 2009.

Video: Building a distributed robotic garden: A look at robots tending a garden. Potential future for robotics in agriculture? YouTube ~ March 2009.


GPS/GIS, Sensors

How GPS could be used on farm: Farm Works®, a division of Trimble, offers a complete range of solutions for the field and farm office. Office solutions include field record keeping, farm accounting, herd management, basic mapping, water management, and mapping analysis. Trimble online ~ summer 2010

Wireless frost alarms prevent berry damage: Oregon Berry Packing, a family-owned berry farm, is one example of a commercial grower leveraging the power of new sensing technology. Onset ~ April 2009.

John Deere&##39;s StarFire system for precision agriculture: StarFire equipment is currently used in a number of agricultural applications including yield mapping, field documentation, operator assisted steering and automatic steering. The PDF document (click on title) offers details. A YouTube video shows it works on the farm. ~ May 2009

Strong Roots: A new irrigation system has made significant improvements in a Washington grower&##39;s berry crops: Blueberry crops thrived this year Sakuma Brothers Farms, Bainbridge Island, WA, at least partly due to the enhanced quality system they now have in place. Published by Growing Produce ~ May 2009.


Food Safety & traceability

Good Agricultural Practices for Food Safety in Blueberry Production. A 40-page document (PDF file) from Michigan State University Extension that focuses on risk reduction when it oomes to food safety. March 2011

Six sure ways to blow a food safety audit. A short list that could save you many headaches down the safety road. The Organic Insider ~ March 2011

Produce traceability around the corner: the 2012 deadline is still a go for the Produce Traceability Initiative, with some changes underway. Growing Produce ~ July 2010

USDA unveils food safety schemes: US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced several new initiatives to ensure the safety and quality of food purchased by the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) for the National School Lunch Program and other food and nutrition assistance schemes. Fruitnet.com ~ February 2010

California startup to give small growers traceability help: A new business aims to provide affordable traceability solutions to small family growers through use of a produce brand utilizing GS1 item-specific DataBar labeling. The Packer~ June 2009.

House passes food safety bill: H.R. 2479, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 passed in the House in July and has yet to pass in the Senate. GovTrack.us ~ January 2010

Food safety working group website: A Food Safety Working Group, chaired by the Secretaries of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, has a website with information on the latest activity and findings of the group. Updated often.


Post-harvest Technology

Recycled pallet: Pallets made with recycled plastic was highlighted by the World Ag Expo. The company, TranPak has a video about the product. Growing Produce ~ April 2010

Researchers develop automated plant sorter: Researchers at ittsburgh&##39;s Carnegie Mellon University&##39;s National Robotics ngineering Center have developed a plantsorting machine that uses computer vision and machine learning technology to inspect and grade harvested strawberry plants and sort them by quality. Fruitnet.com ~ December 2009

Barcode scanning assistance: The Sky-Trax optical barcode reader can be fitted to the front of any forklift or indoor truck to automatically read the label of palletized or bulk materials. ~ Fresh Plaza ~ April 2009

Strawberry harvesting methods: Manzanita Berry Farms has an interesting web page describing their harvesting methods ~ Spring 2009.

Video: Robots spread seeds of change in fruit orchards: Focus is on orchards, but applicable to other fruits�� ~ May 2009.


Cultural Practices & Cultivars

Genetic breakthrough may lead to cheaper, tastier strawberries. Farmers have long struggled with getting ripe strawberries to market in good shape, but scientists say the recent mapping of the wild strawberry&##39;s genome may help them produce berries that are cheaper and easier to grow and arrive in stores in peak condition. The Toronto Star ~ February 2011

Oregon State University help decode strawberry genome. To help improve fruit OSU researchers have laid the groundwork for genetic improvement to related fruits like apples, peaches, and pears. The work could result ot fruit that resists pests, tolerating heat, and requiring less fertilizer. Fruit Growers News.com - January 2011.

Scottish Crop Research Institute close to completion of genetic raspberry map: Scientists in Scotland are on the brink of completing their "genetic linkage map" for raspberries that will help speed up the breeding process to create fruit with specific qualities including flavour intensity, colour and pest and disease resistance. Horticulture Week ~ July 2009.

UK: Albion has &##39;twice the flavour&##39; of other strawberry varieties, say scientists: Although strawberry varieties may all look the same to consumers, they vary considerably in taste. Scientists have found that the difference is due to the relative proportions of the many flavour compounds the berries contain. FreshPlaza ~ July 2009.

Seed Saviors: Description of the National Clonal Germplasm Repository in Corvallis, Oregon where many cultivar seeds are kept. Portland Monthly. Portland Monthly~ June 2009.

B.C. breeders use first nation names: Chaim Kempler, research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Pacific Agri-Food
Research Centre (PARC) makes a point of using First Nation names for new cultivars. Fort Frances Times Online ~ June 2009


Innovative Ideas & Happenings

Fruit Logistica finalists for innovation award: The Innovation Award, now in its fifth year, recognizes new products or services that have had a significant effect on the fruit and vegetable industry. The Packer ~ February 2010