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FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri

FutuRaPS: Future Raspberry Production System for Western Norway

Alternative title: FutuRaPS: Robotikk-tilpasset og data-drevet bringebærdyrkning for Norge, med fokus på vestnorske forhold

Awarded: NOK 4.3 mill.

Raspberries are work-intensive crops, and the need for seasonal labour in harvest season is substantial. Many farmers report lost sales due to a lack of available pickers, and production is in decline. The FutuRaPS project aims to develop the future robotic raspberry production in Norway, with Western Norway as a pilot area, and is focused on combining robotics, big data, plant and biological sciences. The project has the potential to help revitalise raspberry production in Norway by automating processes that up until now have been purely manual operations, and thus developing and securing this important sector. The principal area for raspberry production, Vestland County, is characterised by small farming units, steep terrain and vulnerability to weather phenomena and soil diseases. The project will combine new cropping systems with a robotic harvesting system, robotic spraying, and sensors for crop monitoring and prediction. The project will build, and is based on, leading expertise in robotics at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, and big data at Vestlandsforskning. There is a clear route to commercialisation through partners Fieldwork Robotics Norway and nLink. The project includes leading expertise on raspberry growing and development at the Njøs Fruit and Berry Center, the large local raspberry grower Sognabær, and Sogn Frukt og Grønt.

The project aims to develop the future robotic raspberry production in Norway with Western Norway as a pilot area. The project embodies the spirit of the call by applying state-of-the-art robotics and big data, together with plant and biological sciences, to enable a transformational effect on horticultural processes that until now have been purely manual operations, and thus developing and securing this important sector. The principal area for raspberry production, Vestland County, is characterized by small farming units, steep terrain and vulnerability to weather phenomena and soil diseases. The project will combine new cropping systems that include long-cane raspberry plants in pots and different polytunnel arrangements, with knowledge of robotic harvesting systems, and sensors for crop monitoring and prediction. Modularity in the robots will be explored to maximise utilisation beyond the harvest season, enabling future selective harvesting, transport, spraying and monitoring. Adopting a system of systems approach, the project will simultaneously investigate possible changes to all these aspects. The project will build, and be based on, leading expertise in selective and safe harvesting robots at Høgskulen på Vestlandet, and big data at Vestlandsforskning. There is a route to commercialisation through the industry partners, including nLink AS. The project includes leading expertise on raspberry growing and development at Njøs frukt- og bærsenter, the large local raspberry grower Sognabær, and Sogn Frukt og Grønt. Raspberries are work-intensive crops, and the need for seasonal labour in harvest season is substantial. Many farmers report lost sales due to a lack of available pickers, and production is in decline. The potential impact on raspberry growers is therefore significant. The project has already attracted significant interest from the supply-chain, and the wider commercial potential is considerable, in Norway, the EU, and beyond.

Funding scheme:

FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri