A new technology, based on a 3-D camera system, is helping potato growers to identify the size and weight of a tuber at exact locations within a field.

HarvestEye was launched on to the UK market in 2019 and interest in the new system has reportedly been strong in Europe and Australia.

The plan now is to make the technology available in Ireland

“Size is everything when it comes to potato growers selling their produce,” HarvestEye sales manager Ed Strawson said.

“Up to now potato growers would have used trial digs to assess what’s going on under the soil. But the variability within a potato field is immense.

“HarvestEye has been specifically designed to allow growers identify the size and specific weight of potatoes across an entire field in total detail.”

It’s understood the information can be used to determine future cropping practices.

Tuber technology

Using a camera and machine learning algorithms, the technology measures and counts a crop as it is being harvested. This produces a breakdown of size, count and relative yield through a field – which is considered a huge advantage in modern farming.

Unlike conventional sampling, this technology has the capability to show the performance of the whole field, providing a much more accurate representation of a crop.

The data is captured and collated by a computer, which can even provide historic GPS tracking of a field over the years, allowing growers to make more informed decisions moving forward to improve efficiency, crop yield and uniformity.

With a more comprehensive understanding of the size and count for each field, the technology supports complex decision making, where crop management is concerned, according to the company that developed it.

Crop variability can also be mapped across specific field locations, providing targeted agronomic performance data. It assists growers to work towards specific customer requirements for each variety and, ultimately, increase profits.

The camera can be fitted to any existing harvesting equipment, is reportedly simple to use and doesn’t interfere with the harvester.

The data is then gathered and displayed on a tablet, making it easy to view, analyse and cross-reference detailed data sets.

Placing the system on the potato harvester allows HarvestEye to pinpoint the exact digging location within a field, where specific batches of potatoes are concerned.