Digitalised fruit cultivation

With the help of artificial intelligence, a TU project aims to provide sustainable support for regional fruit growing.

The "Alte Land" on the Lower Elbe in northern Germany is the second largest fruit-growing region in Europe. Around a third of all German dessert apples are produced here and processed for the market. Until now, the apples have also been picked by hand, which involves a great deal of labour. The aim of the SAMSON project is to provide sustainable support for fruit-growing agriculture, which has strong regional roots.

Caring for the trees requires a high level of expertise and many years of experience. For this reason, even the slightest mistreatment can have a significant impact on the yield of a harvest season and subsequent seasons. Determining the correct measures here is a challenge, as environmental influences such as temperature or humidity can vary greatly even within a single cultivation area. According to the current state of the art, apple trees are usually tested at random. If, for example, pests are detected on a particular tree, pesticides are applied uniformly to all trees in the surrounding region. This is inefficient and possibly even harmful to the environment.

Sensors collect data

To ensure more individualised treatment, the SAMSON project comes into play. The project aims to develop a sensor-based solution for recording environmental influences. During operation, tractors record the data obtained, which is stored in a tree-specific manner. It is important that the data takes into account different weather conditions and documents operational interventions such as irrigation or pesticides. In addition, images of the current condition of the individual trees are to be recorded. The data generated will be used by the Institute of Technical Logistics (ITL) as the basis for AI-supported software. This will enable predictions to be made about the quality and yield. The aim is to develop a smart platform that interactively transmits key figures on cultivation data and treatment measures to a mobile device across seasons. This enables farmers to plan critical work steps efficiently and in a resource-saving manner. The introduction of smart assistance systems can also make the profession more attractive in the long term.

Jiahua Wei, Ermin Kevric and Hendrik Rose from the Institute of Technical Logistics form the TU Hamburg team of the SAMSON project. The project is organised by the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
Further information

To the SAMSON project website