`A New Harvester for Traditional Olive Groves - Olive Oil Times

A New Harvester for Traditional Olive Groves

By Julie Butler
May. 1, 2012 03:56 UTC

The pro­to­type of what is hoped to be an afford­able and effi­cient har­vester for Spain’s tra­di­tional olive farms has been devel­oped by researchers at the University of Córdoba.

With fund­ing from the Interprofesional del Aceite de Oliva (Interprofessional), they have adapted a cit­rus canopy shaker from the United States into a towed machine that can shake down, catch, wash and weigh olives, and chan­nel them into a hop­per.

Moreover, the appa­ra­tus has been designed for use in tra­di­tional olive groves, where the use of con­ven­tional mechan­i­cal har­vesters has gen­er­ally not been fea­si­ble.

Interprofessional direc­tor Teresa Pérez said the orga­ni­za­tion had funded the project because we want to be an engine of inno­va­tion in all fields that we con­sider to be strate­gic to the olive oil sec­tor — the prod­uct and its prop­er­ties, its health ben­e­fits, improve­ments in pro­duc­tion — with the aim of increas­ing com­pet­i­tive­ness.”

The high cost of har­vest is a major weak­ness of the tra­di­tional olive sec­tor so we’ve made it a pri­or­ity to find a tech­ni­cal solu­tion that makes mechan­i­cal har­vest­ing fea­si­ble for it.”

Speaking ear­lier in April at the Estepa Extra Virgin Olive Oil County Festival, in Seville, project leader Professor Jesús Gil Ribes said that one of the high­lights of the pro­to­type was its abil­ity to catch the falling fruit.

Tests have shown that the sys­tem is able to inter­cept up to 90 per­cent of the olives removed. Most impor­tantly, it achieves a sig­nif­i­cant cost sav­ings, since the entire process is auto­mated,” he said.

An Interprofessional spokesman told Olive Oil Times the poten­tial retail cost of such a machine was not yet known but the point of the project was to offer an afford­able form of mech­a­niza­tion for tra­di­tional farms. It was hoped to have a prod­uct on the mar­ket within two years.

The pro­to­type was able to han­dle a slight slope, he said. Terraces are com­mon in the often mar­gin­ally-prof­itable tra­di­tional olive groves of Andalusia.

The Interprofessional is a non-profit offi­cial orga­ni­za­tion which rep­re­sents all mem­bers of Spain’s olive oil sec­tor.


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