New Technologies are being used at Hirsch farm, to harvest pomegranates.
A machine has been assisting in the harvesting of pomegranates, cutting down the need for manpower by 50%. The machine doesn’t take the place of the picker, but rather takes the fruit from him and places it gently in the specialized tank, called the Dolev Tank. The machine saves on the logistics as it follows the picker at a rate of 4.5km/hour at the fastest and drags the collection tanks with it. Eventually it takes the fruits to the packaging area.
Pomegranate picking is a sensitive issue as the fruits must be handled with care. Each fruit must be gently and individually placed in a basket, unlike other fruit that can survive rougher handling. The machine is unique because it is capable of handling the fruit carefully, which was the biggest challenge in developing the technology.
This technology was adapted by them, in cooperation with Miryam Shoham company and Gadash Shikma, from a machine that was used to pick apples. In the future this adaptation will also be tested for clementine, mangoes and pretty much every fruit that needs to be assorted in the packaging house.
Last year was the first year in which farm piloted this new technology and after the obvious success it was launched fully this year with two machines.
Itay Hirsch of Hirsch farm describes the benefits in no uncertain terms: “In past years, we had to recruit 40 pickers for the 2 week season of pomegranate picking. It created a lot of chaos. This year we picked the fruit with 2 machines and a total of 20 pickers and it was much more comfortable and orderly. Not only that, but we were able to continue working longer hours as the pickers grew less tired and needed less light thanks to the machines”.
Next year the farm intends to pilot another adaptation of the machine that will be suited for clementine picking. Unlike pomegranates that are all at a low level, clementine can grow both at the bottom of the tree and higher up, so the machine will be adjusted to follow the picker at a level that will save him much of the effort of climbing up and down, whilst carrying the load for him.
This is another example of how the wonders of technology are changing the face of farming, making work more efficient and allowing the workers to focus more on skilled workers rather than labor.