Harvesting Brussels sprouts and processing in the factory

Brussels sprouts. Have you ever wondered how this crop is harvested and prepared for your supermarket? This video reveals it all. We start with harvesting and find three machines at work. You can then see how the crop is taken in, cleaned of foreign material, graded by machine and by hand before it is finally packed in large or small plastic crates or nets for the supermarket.
This video was made at specialist Brussels sprout growers Gebr. Herbert in Zeewolde, Holland. They are one of the leading companies growing this crop in The Netherlands. You can find more information on their website.
First fully automatic Brussels sprout harvesting robot now live at R. and J. Herbert

Sprouts are one of the most difficult crops to grow, and also to harvest, involving a lot of expensive manual work. Brothers Jan and Ronald Herbert grew up with sprouts. They made a venture capital investment in the future of sprouts and their company. The very first fully automatic Brussels sprout picking robot, developed by machine builder Tumoba, is working hard this season at the harvest. In this way, sprouts will remain profitable and affordable for the company that has now been in existence for 25 years and is competing for the title of Agricultural Entrepreneur of the Year.

Harvesting sprouts is very labour-intensive, if the process had not already been partly mechanised, sprouts would have been unaffordable by now. In the past, each sprout was picked individually and by hand from the stump. In the 1980s, this was semi-automated by the sprout harvester with a knife system that cuts the stumps and a picking head with knives that cuts the sprouts from the stump. The step in between is still done manually with 4 men who put the cut stumps in the picking heads. Tumoba has succeeded in replacing this human handwork with robot arms. These can take over the monotonous work and are also not bothered by the changing weather conditions and the (often wet) sprout stumps.

Robot vs man
In the short term, the use of robots will not contribute to a reduction in cost price. The big advantage now is the flexibility that the robot gives, which reduces the pressure on the employees. In the December month, the demand for sprouts peaks. Because the picking robot was being used, there was no need to hire extra personnel.
The robot arms can work almost as hard (approx. 10 plants per minute) as 4 experienced workers (approx. 12 plants/minute). The expectation is that in the future the robot can work 24/7 on the field and will then pay for itself. One worker is still needed to control the harvesting robot and ensure that it can make the turn at the end of the row. Compared to a traditional 4-row harvester, this saves three man-hours, and the robot makes the work safer and less strenuous.

In the video below, we can see the Harvesting Brussels sprouts and processing in the factory

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