Welcome to AmLight project website
AmLight " Development of an Automatic harvesting system for green asparagus with stalk detection in Ambient Light" is a research for the benefit of SMEs type of project supported by the European Comission.
Asparagus is a long-lived perennial, grown for its young tender shoots and ornamental foliage, and has been used as food for thousands of years. Today, asparagus is known around the globe for its uncommonly fine delicate taste.
The most widely known and used variety of asparagus is green. Its production has increase from 57% of global production in 2005 to 62% in 2009. But asparagus also comes in two other colours: white (37%) and violet (~1%)1. Since all three varieties have different flavours, they lend themselves to very different dishes.
The European production of green asparagus has increased to 97,800 tons in 2009 making Europe the 3rd largest producer of green asparagus after China (403,600 tons), and Peru (216,400 tons) in the world.
Today harvesting is done by seasonal workers, usually 1 worker is needed per hectare and season putting the harvesting cost to approx. 0.7 €/kg, which presents about 1/3 of the total production cost. The increasing labour costs and the lack of available labour supply forces the asparagus farmers to optimize harvesting process and to introduce harvesting aids. E.g. 2007, in Germany, 5 % of the grown asparagus was not harvested due to the lack of available work forces; and in 2010 the harvesting season started 3 weeks later than usual due to the very long and hard winter, while the seasonal workers were already hired and paid by the farmers. With automated harvesting the availability of labour force would play a less important role and makes the harvesting much more flexible and cost efficient.
While for the cultivation of green asparagus the degree of automation is quite high, the automation of the harvesting is still an unsolved challenge.
Several approaches for automated machines have been made but none of the known automated harvester can guarantee a picking rate and quality of the harvested asparagus the same as manual by labour.
The main reason for problems with selective green asparagus harvesting is the difficulty and the complexity of the asparagus detection - and here especially:
→ The ambient light cannot sufficiently be shielded away, which leads to misinterpretation for the image processing
→ Green asparagus must be detected in 3D
Related EU projects
A meeting for evaluation of field tests was held on the 13th of September 2016 in Buxtehude, Germany.
Project duration: 2 years
Budget: 1.394.892 €
EC contribution: 1.036.000 €