“Cheaper cameras and faster processing capabilities open a world of opportunities for orchard imaging, but which approaches will pay off?”
Kate Prengaman, TJ Mullinax // August 12, 2021
The first time I watched a camera system count apples, it crawled slowly through the orchard just before harvest, weighed down by the processing speed of all the imagery. Four years later, imaging systems can whiz through orchards — recognizing the crop through the stages of development from bud (in some cases) to bin, mapping an entire block or capturing detailed sampling data.
These rapid advances in computer vision have created the opportunity for companies to develop specialized tools for orchardists, from complex, quad-mounted systems with custom lighting to smartphone-based sampling.
Today’s imaging systems are beating not just their pilot-project predecessors but also the workers who hand count buds before pruning or fruitlets before thinning, showing true promise for the future.
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