• Plethora of platforms

Plethora of platforms

  • January 15th, 2011

Above, left: Called the Trifrut, this three-wheeled, hydraulic transmission tractor has a low profile for orchard canopies and a low center of gravity. Made by FACMA of Italy.

Published January 15, 2011

Self-propelled elevating orchard platforms designed for slopes, harvesting ­platforms with boxes that mechanically empty into bins, platforms run by [...]

Fruit region is electric vehicle hub

  • December 1st, 2010

The days of 30-cents-per-gallon gasoline are long gone, but new electric vehicles can run on the equivalent of that in areas of the country where power rates are low.

North central Washington State, with its cheap hydropower and emerging wind and solar projects, has become a hub for efforts to [...]

REAP can benefit orchardists

  • December 1st, 2010

Fruit growers have been less likely than other farmers to tap into funds available under the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), but some have found opportunity.

Chip and Karla Bailey of Williamson, New York, obtained grants that helped them buy a wind turbine and an array of solar [...]

  • Vacuum harvester passes bruising tests

Vacuum harvester passes bruising tests

  • December 1st, 2010

Critical components of the DBR harvester are the vacuum tubes (green ones carry apples), the decelerator wheels (circular steel), and the elephant-ear fruit distributor (fan-like device above apples). Here, a full bin is being lowered to the ground during a demonstration at Mike Rasch’s orchard in August.

The vacuum system [...]

  • Electric-tractor maker gears up

Electric-tractor maker gears up

  • December 1st, 2010

Steve Heckeroth had a number of potential buyers for his crawler tractor when the price of gas and diesel was high.

Alternative-energy enthusiast Steve Heckeroth says the increasing use of electric tractors will depend largely on the economics, even though there are other good reasons to switch from ­fossil fuels.

Heckeroth, [...]

  • How do platforms impact workers?

How do platforms impact workers?

  • December 1st, 2010

Kit Galvin of the University of Washington explains how she is studying the health impacts of platform work. Rolf Luehs (on the platform), research assistant with the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, demonstrates how workers wear monitors to measure their body movements and heart rate.

University of Washington scientists are [...]

  • KC Bailey Farms taps wind and sun for power

KC Bailey Farms taps wind and sun for power

  • December 1st, 2010

This shiny new roof is covered with 110 photovoltiac solar panels that will provide 25-kilowatt power capacity for the cold storage behind it.

Chip and Karla Bailey saw the potential for generating renewable energy on their farm already in 2001, but it took a while to get there.

After years of [...]

  • Mechanical thinner for green peaches

Mechanical thinner for green peaches

  • December 1st, 2010

The Bin Bandit hauls bins during the harvest season, and a platform sits on it for use in thinning, pruning, and tree training.

Todd Furber jumped on an idea when he saw a prototype fruit harvester at a field day in Pennsylvania, and, adding some ingenuity, he turned it into [...]

  • Large art for small farms

Large art for small farms

  • December 1st, 2010

An illustration of what John Maher’s ladder artwork will look like.

Artist John Maher of Mosier, Oregon, is turning his talents to creating a huge outdoor project featuring dozens of colorfully painted fruit ladders that will appear in a conga-line formation, along highways in the Columbia Gorge.

“Getting the public’s attention [...]

  • Eliminating LADDERS

Eliminating LADDERS

  • December 1st, 2010

Auvil Fruit Company, based in Orondo, Washington, has developed a picking platform with two objectives in mind: to keep costly cull apples out of the ­packing house and to expand the potential labor pool.

For more than 20 years, Auvil has had workers use platforms, rather than ladders, to prune, [...]

  • Revolution for INNOVATION

Revolution for INNOVATION

  • December 1st, 2010

Trellis posts in New York are vibrated in, not pounded, using down pressure from a loader and a vibrating cam.

Growers in western New York are convinced they need to mechanize their fruit operations and improve labor efficiency if they are to flourish in the future, and they’re moving rapidly [...]

  • Farming THE SUN

Farming THE SUN

  • December 1st, 2010

Sol Orchard installed this one-megawatt solar panel project for California’s Victor Valley College.

Imagine a crop without worries of labor, pests, rain during harvest, and rising fertilizer costs. In the near future, there’s potential for such a crop, and it’s one that most growers could produce with little impact on [...]