"We figured out the issues before coming up with the solution, which were labor shortage, cost problems, quality issues, food- loss, and waste. Then we created our harvesting robot for strawberries," says Hannah Brown, co-founder and CCO of Organifarms.
The first demos of our robot are taking place at Delphy's Innovative Soft Fruit Centre based in the Netherlands. Hannah says over 15 customers have visited to see the prototype in action. "Interest towards our product has been very pleasant so far, as well as the demos that have been delivering stable results."
ROI within 2-4 years
According to Hannah, now more than ever, growers struggle to find seasonal workers and head growers to take care of their harvest. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find human labor to do the harvesting.
"With BERRY, that's no longer an issue since the robot can work 24/7, giving growers a huge advantage as the lack of available workers can be made up by using the device. Resulting in a greater output since one to two harvesting workers can be replaced by one robot. Although it's quite a capital-intensive investment, growers can generate revenue within 2-4 years after purchasing," Hannah notes.
Supporting head growers
Based on the setup used to grow the berries, season, density, and the number of ripe fruits, Organifarms can easily make an assumption for interested growers. Normally, the team sits down with the grower to set certain calculations, a harvest sketch, and other key numbers to give clear insights into the possibilities of the harvesting robot.
"Currently, a head grower is still required, but we might be able to reduce the need in the future as we're adding additional features such as plant monitoring to the robot. In the end, that's our ultimate goal as it's not only harvesters that farmers need. This addition will allow growers to be even more flexible by forecasting their harvest and planning efficiently, saving on multiple areas," Hannah affirms.
At this time, Organifarms has been focusing on greenhouses mostly because the strawberry robot can easily be integrated into this setup. Soon, the product roll-out will be available for greenhouse farmers based in the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Another demo is planned for late July to showcase what other tricks the harvesting robot has up its sleeve. Besides that, the robot will have its first commercial appearance at GreenTech, which will take place in Amsterdam from 14-16 June.
Visit Organifarms at booth 02.219 to catch a glimpse of the device for yourself and learn more about the product firsthand.