Discrete event simulation shows potential for small autonomous potato harvester

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract


Arable farming in North-West Europe faces challenges on the availability of labor, water and pesticides and as well yield reduction due to subsoil compaction by oversized machines, mostly at harvest. A new farming concept using strip intercropping, controlled traffic farming and small lightweight smart autonomous machines may have potential to overcome these challenges. In adopting controlled traffic farming there is a need for an alternative for the current harvesting machines. Such an alternative could be an autonomous mobile field robot harvester with several mobile field robot transporters. This study focusses on finding optimal solutions and technical requirements for potato harvest machines. To compare those solutions with conventional potato harvesters, a discrete event model was developed to simulate the movements of the harvesters and transport logistics on the field. The model imports real world field boundaries and can handle preconditions of traffic lanes and strip intercropping. For each solution several scenarios were simulated for a standard rectangular field of 6 ha. An autonomous mobile field robot harvester with a one-crate bunker together with two mobile field robot transport units with two-crates each, has a field efficiency of 82.5%, a field capacity of 0.41 ha/h, and a total operation time of 14.8h. A conventional self-propelled 4-row bunker harvester with two tractors with trailers had a field efficiency of 76%, a field capacity of 1.01 ha/h, and a total operation time of 6.0 h. The presentation will convince you of the value proposition of harvesting with mobile field robotics solutions as a viable option to overcome the challenges of current oversized machinery. In addition the model approach, the proposed solutions and assumptions made for the simulation will be presented.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProgram & Abstracts Book EurAgEng 2021 Conference
Subtitle of host publicationNew Challenges for Agricultural Engineering towards a Digital World
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventEurAgEng 2021 Conference - University of Evora, Evora, Portugal
Duration: 5 Jul 20218 Jul 2021


ConferenceEurAgEng 2021 Conference


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