Gantry technology in organic crop production
Schäfer, Winfried (2003)
Abstract Gantry technology in organic crop production Winfried Schäfer Agrifood Research Finland, Agricultural Engineering Research, email@example.com Objectives: Costs of agricultural machinery and farm buildings are substantial, comprising about 40% of production costs also in organic farming. What are the tasks of agricultural machinery and agricultural engineering research in organic farming? Which agricultural engineering results support the basic principles of organic farming? Hypothesis: Future agricultural engineering for organic farming embraces three essential areas: support of animal welfare, use of renewable energy, and strengthening sustainable crop production. Modern gantry technology offers ideal support for organic crop production objectives. Method: A literature review of scientific gantry research publications within the past ten years. Results/discussion: Present gantry research results show that gantry technology saves energy and work, increases profitability, improves and preserves soil structure, extends working time periods and assures timeliness of critical operations, offers independence frm weather and day light during field work, allows precise fertiliser distribution and irrigation, supports high precision intra-row weed control, field mapping for various objectives, automation of repeating work steps, automated ope rations by computer vision, and grants better working conditions. Gantry technology may in future support organic crop production by · continuous mapping of plot specific soil and flora data, · plot mapping for habitat specific operations, · cultivation of perennial vegetation covering, · mixed cropping/alley cropping systems using allelopathic effects for weed and pest resistance, · precise distribution of compost and preparations, · in time sowing, in time weed and pest control, · mulch based cultivating and fertilising. Gantry technology renders excellent opportunity for transdisciplinary research and co-operation between life scientists and engineers. Scientists from different disciplines are required for measuring and observation of biodiversity indicators, energy balance, soil tilth, nutrient balance, quality of work, and quality of products. Dynamic observation methods like appearance of plants during all stages of development using computer vision and image-processing methods may support human observation. The habitat specific information can be used to plan a crop rotation including mixed cropping or strip cultivation solu-tions, green mulch fertilisation, and allelopathic effects best suited for a given plot or even for a specific location of a given plot. References Taylor, J. H. 1994: Development and benefits of vehicle gantries and controlled traffic systems. Soane, B. D. & C. van Ouwerkerk (editors). Soil compaction in crop production. Elsevier: 521-537. Tian, L., Chancellor, W. J., Carnegie, E. J. 1993. Machine vision guidance and positioing of a controlled traffic farming gantry system. Paper - American Society of Agricultural En-gineers, No. 93-1605, 11 pp. Viselga, G., 1998: Investigation of the usage of ordinary working parts in the circular gantry system. Ecological aspects of mechanized fertilizer application, mechanized pesticide application and soil tillage. Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium, Warsaw, Poland, 24-25 September 1998: 133-140.
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