Special Issue "Smart machines, Remote Sensing, Precision Farming, Processes, Mechatronic, Materials and Policies for Safety and Health Aspects"

A special issue of Agriculture (ISSN 2077-0472).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 October 2017)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Andrea Colantoni

Department of Agricultural and Forestry scieNcEs (DAFNE), University of Tuscia, Via S. Camillo de Lellis, SNC, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
E-Mail
Interests: agricultural mechanics and mechanization; renewable energy, safety and health
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Danilo Monarca

Department of Agricultural and Forestry scieNcEs (DAFNE), University of Tuscia, Via S. Camillo de Lellis, SNC, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
E-Mail
Interests: agricultural mechanics and mechanization; renewable energy, safety and health
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Massimo Cecchini

Department of Agricultural and Forestry scieNcEs (DAFNE), University of Tuscia, Via S. Camillo de Lellis, SNC, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: agricultural mechanics and mechanization; renewable energy, safety and health
Guest Editor
Dr. Laurendi Vincenzo

National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work (INAIL). Via Fontana Candida, 1- 00078 Monte Porzio Catone (RM), Italy
E-Mail
Interests: agricultural mechanics and mechanization; safety and health
Guest Editor
Dr. Villarini Mauro

DAFNE - Department of Agricultural and Forestry scieNcEs (DAFNE). via S. Camillo De Lellis snc -01100. Viterbo - Italy
E-Mail
Interests: renewable energy; Fire and Building Safety
Guest Editor
Dr. Filippo Gambella

Università degli Studi di Sassari, Department of Agraria, Sassari, Italy
E-Mail
Interests: agricultural mechanics and mechanization; renewable energy, safety and health

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The introduction of "smart machines" for agricultural operations will allow several advantages, such as an increase in their efficiencies, a reduction in environmental impacts and a reduction of work injuries. There are partially- and fully-automatic devices for most aspects of agricultural functions, from seeding and planting to harvesting, from spraying to livestock management, and so on. Moreover "precision farming", using sensors and robotic technologies are applied to existing systems. Work health and safety are also linked to the use of modern technologies, e.g., the protection of machinery operators from crush, entanglement, and shearing by means of mechatronic solutions. Another aspect is the use of robots and smart automation, which can also benefit from the gathering of operational data, such as machine condition and fleet monitoring, allowing preventive maintenance and improved fleet management. Considerable advances in sensing hardware, information technologies, smart systems, and software algorithms, have led to significant new developments in the areas of equipment health monitoring, fault diagnosis, and prognosis. These advances enable industries to undergo a fundamental shift towards condition-based maintenance to improve equipment availability and readiness at reduced operating costs throughout the system life-cycle. The emergence of sensor networks is also bringing the possibility of collective learning algorithms and decision-theoretic approaches to facilitate effective and scalable diagnostic/prognostic technology for widespread deployment of condition-based maintenance. The mentioned technological development is applicable to the relevant context of safety engineering. Furthermore, energy, safety and agriculture have an important role in reducing environmental emissions. All the systems aimed at the management of energy, safety, and environment are performed and optimized by means of innovative technologies, materials, processes, and methods.

The purpose of this Special Issue is to publish high-quality research papers, as well as review articles, addressing recent advances on systems, processes, and materials for work safety, health, and environment. Original, high-quality contributions that have not yet been published, or that are not currently under review by other journals or peer-reviewed conferences, are sought.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

Materials

  • Study of man–machine dialogue systems.
  • Analysis on towed or carried machines: Forestry chippers, manure spreaders, round balers and others.
  • Safety and Health management system design and engineering.
  • Safety and Health monitoring sensors and sensing.
  • Data-driven methods for anomaly detection, diagnosis and prognosis.
  • Precision farming
  • Mechatronic

Processes

  • Innovative methods.
  • Systems integration.
  • Automotive and agriculture machinery applications.
  • Agricultural automation.
  • Precision farming machinery.
  • Sensors.
  • Condition monitoring.
  • Material and methods on Precision Farming.

Systems

  • Engineering and optimization.
  • System engineering concepts.
  • Engineering of hybrid and integrated systems and their efficiency maximization, especially for safety and health purposes, aimed to injuries and accidents reduction.
  • Use of remote sensor and mechatronic systems applied in several aspects.

Dr. Andrea Colantoni
Dr. Monarca Danilo
Dr. Cecchini Massimo
Dr. Laurendi Vincenzo
Dr. Villarini Mauro
Dr. Filippo Gambella
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agriculture is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 550 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Agriculture Engineering
  • Mechatronic
  • Sensors
  • Safety Engineering
  • Fire and Building Safety
  • Precision farming

Published Papers (16 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Analysis of the Almond Harvesting and Hulling Mechanization Process: A Case Study
Agriculture 2017, 7(12), 100; doi:10.3390/agriculture7120100
Received: 1 November 2017 / Revised: 28 November 2017 / Accepted: 1 December 2017 / Published: 4 December 2017
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Abstract
The aim of this paper is the analysis of the almond harvesting system with a very high level of mechanization frequently used in Apulia for the almond harvesting and hulling process. Several tests were carried out to assess the technical aspects related to
[...] Read more.
The aim of this paper is the analysis of the almond harvesting system with a very high level of mechanization frequently used in Apulia for the almond harvesting and hulling process. Several tests were carried out to assess the technical aspects related to the machinery and to the mechanized harvesting system used itself, highlighting their usefulness, limits, and compatibility within the almond cultivation sector. Almonds were very easily separated from the tree, and this circumstance considerably improved the mechanical harvesting operation efficiency even if the total time was mainly affected by the time required to manoeuvre the machine and by the following manual tree beating. The mechanical pick-up from the ground was not effective, with only 30% of the dropped almond collected, which mainly was caused by both the pick-up reel of the machine being unable to approach the almonds dropped near the base of the trunk and the surface condition of the soil being unsuitably arranged for a mechanized pick-up operation. The work times concerning the hulling and screening processes, carried out at the farm, were heavily affected by several manual operations before, during, and after the executed process; nevertheless, the plant work capability varied from 170 to 200 kg/h with two operators. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Safety Improvements on Wood Chippers Currently in Use: A Study on Feasibility in the Italian Context
Agriculture 2017, 7(12), 98; doi:10.3390/agriculture7120098
Received: 30 September 2017 / Revised: 17 November 2017 / Accepted: 28 November 2017 / Published: 3 December 2017
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Abstract
Following formal opposition by France, the harmonized safety standards regarding manually-loaded wood chippers (EN 13525:2005+A2:2009) which presumed compliance with the Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSR) required by the Machine Directive (Directive 2006/42/EC), have recently been withdrawn, and a new draft of the
[...] Read more.
Following formal opposition by France, the harmonized safety standards regarding manually-loaded wood chippers (EN 13525:2005+A2:2009) which presumed compliance with the Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSR) required by the Machine Directive (Directive 2006/42/EC), have recently been withdrawn, and a new draft of the standard is currently under revision. In order to assess the potential impact of the expected future harmonized standards within the Italian context, this study has examined the main issues in implementing EHSRs on wood chippers already being used. Safety issues regarding wood chippers already in use were identified in an analysis of the draft standard, through the observation of a number of case studies, and qualitative analysis of the essential technical interventions. A number of agricultural and forestry operators and companies participated in the study, pointing out the technical and economic obstacle facing the safety features requested by the pending new standard. It emerged that the main safety issues concerned the implementation of the reverse function, the stop bar, and the protective devices, the infeed chute dimension, the emergency stop function, and the designated feeding area. The possibility of adopting such solutions mainly depends on technical feasibility and costs, but an important role is also played by the attitude towards safety and a lack of adequate information regarding safety obligations and procedures among users. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Phytotoxicity and Chemical Characterization of Compost Derived from Pig Slurry Solid Fraction for Organic Pellet Production
Agriculture 2017, 7(11), 94; doi:10.3390/agriculture7110094
Received: 26 September 2017 / Revised: 24 October 2017 / Accepted: 31 October 2017 / Published: 4 November 2017
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Abstract
The phytotoxicity of four different composts obtained from pig slurry solid fraction composted by itself (SSFC) and mixed with sawdust (SC), woodchips (WCC) and wheat straw (WSC) was tested with bioassay methods. For each compost type, the effect of water extracts of compost
[...] Read more.
The phytotoxicity of four different composts obtained from pig slurry solid fraction composted by itself (SSFC) and mixed with sawdust (SC), woodchips (WCC) and wheat straw (WSC) was tested with bioassay methods. For each compost type, the effect of water extracts of compost on seed germination and primary root growth of cress (Lepidium Sativum L.) was investigated. Composts were also chemically analysed for total nitrogen, ammonium, electrical conductivity and heavy metal (Cu and Zn). The chemicals were correlated to phytotoxicity indices. The mean values of the germination index (GI) obtained were 160.7, 187.9, 200.9 and 264.4 for WSC, WCC, SC and SSFC, respectively. Growth index (GrI) ranged from the 229.4%, the highest value, for SSFC, followed by 201.9% for SC, and 193.1% for WCC, to the lowest value, 121.4%, for WSC. Electrical conductivity showed a significant and negative correlation with relative seed germination at the 50% and 75% concentrations. A strong positive correlation was found for water-extractable Cu with relative root growth and germination index at the 10% concentration. Water-extractable Zn showed a significant positive correlation with relative root growth and GI at the 10% concentration. These results highlighted that the four composts could be used for organic pellet production and subsequently distributed as a soil amendment with positive effects on seed germination and plant growth (GI > 80%). Full article
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Open AccessArticle A Study of the Lateral Stability of Self-Propelled Fruit Harvesters
Agriculture 2017, 7(11), 92; doi:10.3390/agriculture7110092
Received: 31 August 2017 / Revised: 25 October 2017 / Accepted: 30 October 2017 / Published: 1 November 2017
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Abstract
Self-propelled fruit harvesters (SPFHs) are agricultural machines designed to facilitate fruit picking and other tasks requiring operators to stay close to the foliage or to the upper part of the canopy. They generally consist of a chassis with a variable height working platform
[...] Read more.
Self-propelled fruit harvesters (SPFHs) are agricultural machines designed to facilitate fruit picking and other tasks requiring operators to stay close to the foliage or to the upper part of the canopy. They generally consist of a chassis with a variable height working platform that can be equipped with lateral extending platforms. The positioning of additional masses (operators, fruit bins) and the maximum height of the platform (up to three meters above the ground) strongly affect machine stability. Since there are no specific studies on the lateral stability of SPFHs, this study aimed to develop a specific test procedure to fill this gap. A survey of the Italian market found 20 firms manufacturing 110 different models of vehicles. Observation and monitoring of SPFHs under real operational conditions revealed the variables mostly likely to affect lateral stability: the position and mass of the operators and the fruit bin on the platform. Two SPFHs were tested in the laboratory to determine their centre of gravity and lateral stability in four different settings reproducing operational conditions. The test setting was found to affect the stability angle. Lastly, the study identified two specific settings reproducing real operational conditions most likely to affect the lateral stability of SPFHs: these should be used as standard, reproducible settings to enable a comparison of results. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Development of a Variable Rate Chemical Sprayer for Monitoring Diseases and Pests Infestation in Coconut Plantations
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 89; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100089
Received: 7 September 2017 / Revised: 17 October 2017 / Accepted: 18 October 2017 / Published: 22 October 2017
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Abstract
An image processing-based variable rate chemical sprayer for disease and pest-infested coconut plantations was designed and evaluated. The manual application of chemicals is considered risky and hazardous to workers, and provides low precision. The designed sprayer consisted of a sprayer frame, motors, a
[...] Read more.
An image processing-based variable rate chemical sprayer for disease and pest-infested coconut plantations was designed and evaluated. The manual application of chemicals is considered risky and hazardous to workers, and provides low precision. The designed sprayer consisted of a sprayer frame, motors, a power system, a chemical tank and pump, a crane, a nozzle with a remote monitoring system, and motion and crane controlling systems. As the target was confirmed, the nozzle was moved towards the target area (tree canopy) using the remote monitoring system. The pump then sprayed chemicals to the target at a specified rate. The results suggested optimal design values for 5–9 m tall coconut trees, including the distance between nozzle and target (1 m), pressure (1.5 bar), spraying rate (2.712 L/min), the highest movement speed (1.5 km/h), fuel consumption (0.58 L/h), and working capacity (0.056 ha/h). The sprayer reduced labor requirements, prevented chemical hazards to workers, and increased coconut pest controlling efficiency. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Analysis of Possible Noise Reduction Arrangements inside Olive Oil Mills: A Case Study
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 88; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100088
Received: 9 August 2017 / Revised: 10 October 2017 / Accepted: 11 October 2017 / Published: 16 October 2017
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Abstract
Apulia (Southern Italy) is the leading Italian region for the production of olive oil (115 × 106 kg of oil/year), and the olive oil chain is really important from a business point of view. Currently, the extraction of olive oil is essentially
[...] Read more.
Apulia (Southern Italy) is the leading Italian region for the production of olive oil (115 × 106 kg of oil/year), and the olive oil chain is really important from a business point of view. Currently, the extraction of olive oil is essentially performed by using a mechanical pressing process (traditional olive oil mills), or by the centrifugation process (modern olive oil mills). The aim of this paper is to evaluate in detail the noise levels within a typical olive oil mill located in the northern part of the Apulia region during olive oil extraction. The feasibility of this study focusing on the assessment of workers’ exposure to noise was tested in compliance with the Italian-European Regulations and US standards and criteria. Several measurements of the noise emission produced by each machine belonging to the productive cycle were carried out during olive oil production. The results obtained were then used to evaluate possible improvements to carry out in order to achieve better working conditions. An effective reduction in noise could probably be achieved through a combination of different solutions, which obviously have to be assessed not only from a technical point of view but also an economic one. A significant reduction in noise levels could be achieved by increasing the area of the room allotted to the olive oil extraction cycle by removing all the unnecessary partition walls that might be present. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Monitoring and Precision Spraying for Orchid Plantation with Wireless WebCAMs
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 87; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100087
Received: 7 September 2017 / Revised: 27 September 2017 / Accepted: 3 October 2017 / Published: 11 October 2017
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Abstract
Through processing images taken from wireless WebCAMs on the low altitude remote sensing (LARS) platform, this research monitored crop growth, pest, and disease information in a dendrobium orchid’s plantation. Vegetetative indices were derived for distinguishing different stages of crop growth, and the infestation
[...] Read more.
Through processing images taken from wireless WebCAMs on the low altitude remote sensing (LARS) platform, this research monitored crop growth, pest, and disease information in a dendrobium orchid’s plantation. Vegetetative indices were derived for distinguishing different stages of crop growth, and the infestation density of pests and diseases. Image data was processed through an algorithm created in MATLAB® (The MathWorks, Inc., Natick, USA). Corresponding to the orchid’s growth stage and its infestation density, varying levels of fertilizer and chemical injections were administered. The acquired LARS images from wireless WebCAMs were positioned using geo-referencing, and eventually processed to estimate vegetative-indices (Red = 650 nm and NIR = 800 nm band center). Good correlations and a clear cluster range were obtained in characteristic plots of the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and the green normalized difference vegetation index (GNDVI) against chlorophyll content. The coefficient of determination, the chlorophyll content values (μmol m−2) showed significant differences among clusters for healthy orchids (R2 = 0.985–0.992), and for infested orchids (R2 = 0.984–0.998). The WebCAM application, while being inexpensive, provided acceptable inputs for image processing. The LARS platform gave its best performance at an altitude of 1.2 m above canopy. The image processing software based on LARS images provided satisfactory results as compared with manual measurements. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Energy and Carbon Impact of Precision Livestock Farming Technologies Implementation in the Milk Chain: From Dairy Farm to Cheese Factory
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 79; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100079
Received: 31 July 2017 / Revised: 7 September 2017 / Accepted: 19 September 2017 / Published: 21 September 2017
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Abstract
Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) is being developed in livestock farms to relieve the human workload and to help farmers to optimize production and management procedure. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the consequences in energy intensity and the related carbon impact,
[...] Read more.
Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) is being developed in livestock farms to relieve the human workload and to help farmers to optimize production and management procedure. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the consequences in energy intensity and the related carbon impact, from dairy farm to cheese factory, due to the implementation of a real-time milk analysis and separation (AfiMilk MCS) in milking parlors. The research carried out involved three conventional dairy farms, the collection and delivery of milk from dairy farms to cheese factory and the processing line of a traditional soft cheese into a dairy factory. The AfiMilk MCS system installed in the milking parlors allowed to obtain a large number of information related to the quantity and quality of milk from each individual cow and to separate milk with two different composition (one with high coagulation properties and the other one with low coagulation properties), with different percentage of separation. Due to the presence of an additional milkline and the AfiMilk MCS components, the energy requirements and the related environmental impact at farm level were slightly higher, among 1.1% and 4.4%. The logistic of milk collection was also significantly reorganized in view of the collection of two separate type of milk, hence, it leads an increment of 44% of the energy requirements. The logistic of milk collection and delivery represents the process which the highest incidence in energy consumption occurred after the installation of the PLF technology. Thanks to the availability of milk with high coagulation properties, the dairy plant, produced traditional soft cheese avoiding the standardization of the formula, as a result, the energy uses decreased about 44%, while considering the whole chain, the emissions of carbon dioxide was reduced by 69%. In this study, the application of advance technologies in milking parlors modified not only the on-farm management but mainly the procedure carried out in cheese making plant. This aspect makes precision livestock farming implementation unimportant technology that may provide important benefits throughout the overall milk chain, avoiding about 2.65 MJ of primary energy every 100 kg of processed milk. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Adoption of Web-Based Spatial Tools by Agricultural Producers: Conversations with Seven Northeastern Ontario Farmers Using the GeoVisage Decision Support System
Agriculture 2017, 7(8), 69; doi:10.3390/agriculture7080069
Received: 9 June 2017 / Revised: 2 August 2017 / Accepted: 2 August 2017 / Published: 8 August 2017
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Abstract
This paper reports on the findings of a multi-site qualitative case study research project designed to document the utility and perceived usefulness of weather station and imagery data associated with the online resource GeoVisage among northeastern Ontario farmers. Interviews were conducted onsite at
[...] Read more.
This paper reports on the findings of a multi-site qualitative case study research project designed to document the utility and perceived usefulness of weather station and imagery data associated with the online resource GeoVisage among northeastern Ontario farmers. Interviews were conducted onsite at five participating farms (three dairy, one cash crop, and one public access fruit/vegetable) in 2014–2016, and these conversations were transcribed and returned to participants for member checking. Interview data was then entered into Atlas.ti software for the purpose of qualitative thematic analysis. Fifteen codes emerged from the data and findings center around three overarching themes: common uses of weather station data (e.g., air/soil temperature, rainfall); the use of GeoVisage Imagery data/tools (e.g., acreage calculations, remotely sensed imagery); and future recommendations for the online resource (e.g., communication, secure crop imagery, mobile access). Overall, weather station data and tools freely accessible through the GeoVisage site were viewed as representing a timely, positive, and important addition to contemporary agricultural decision-making in northeastern Ontario farming. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Safety-Critical Manuals for Agricultural Tractor Drivers: A Method to Improve Their Usability
Agriculture 2017, 7(8), 67; doi:10.3390/agriculture7080067
Received: 4 July 2017 / Revised: 30 July 2017 / Accepted: 31 July 2017 / Published: 4 August 2017
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Abstract
This work sets out the planning phases adopted for the first time to put together a manual on injury and accident prevention in the use of farm tractors. The goal is to convey information more effectively than at present, while taking the end
[...] Read more.
This work sets out the planning phases adopted for the first time to put together a manual on injury and accident prevention in the use of farm tractors. The goal is to convey information more effectively than at present, while taking the end users’ opinions into consideration. The manual was devised, created, and tested based on a human-centred design (HCD) process, which identified the operators’ requirements using a participatory ergonomics (PE) strategy. The main topics of the manual were outlined by engaging the users in a qualitative research activity (i.e., focus groups and workshops with final users), and the contents were prioritized and labelled by way of a noun prioritization activity. The users were involved right up to the choice of graphics and print layout in order to orient the publication to the farming context. The research activity highlighted a divergence between the operators’ requirements and the topics currently dealt with in the sector publications. The project resulted in the publication of the “Safe Tractor” manual, which features some innovations. The experience highlighted the need to adopt HCD processes to create innovative editorial products, which can help speed up the dissemination of safety culture in the primary sector. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Precision Farming in Hilly Areas: The Use of Network RTK in GNSS Technology
Agriculture 2017, 7(7), 60; doi:10.3390/agriculture7070060
Received: 21 June 2017 / Revised: 14 July 2017 / Accepted: 19 July 2017 / Published: 20 July 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (3177 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The number of GNSS satellites has greatly increased over the last few decades, which has led to increased interest in developing self-propelled vehicles. Even agricultural vehicles have a great potential for use of these systems. In fact, it is possible to improve the
[...] Read more.
The number of GNSS satellites has greatly increased over the last few decades, which has led to increased interest in developing self-propelled vehicles. Even agricultural vehicles have a great potential for use of these systems. In fact, it is possible to improve the efficiency of machining in terms of their uniformity, reduction of fertilizers, pesticides, etc. with the aim of (i) reducing the timeframes of cultivation operations with significant economic benefits and, above all, (ii) decreasing environmental impact. These systems face some perplexity in hilly environments but, with specific devices, it is possible to overcome any signal deficiencies. In hilly areas then, the satellite-based system can also be used to safeguard operators’ safety from the risk of rollover. This paper reports the results obtained from a rural development program (RDP) in the Lazio Region 2007/2013 (measure project 1.2.4) for the introduction and diffusion of GNSS satellites systems in hilly areas. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Identification of Optimal Mechanization Processes for Harvesting Hazelnuts Based on Geospatial Technologies in Sicily (Southern Italy)
Agriculture 2017, 7(7), 56; doi:10.3390/agriculture7070056
Received: 19 June 2017 / Revised: 5 July 2017 / Accepted: 6 July 2017 / Published: 9 July 2017
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Abstract
Sicily is a region located in the southern Italy. Its typical Mediterranean landscape is appreciated due to its high biodiversity. Specifically, hazelnut plantations have adapted in a definite area in Sicily (the Nebroidi park) due to specific morphological and climatic characteristics. However, many
[...] Read more.
Sicily is a region located in the southern Italy. Its typical Mediterranean landscape is appreciated due to its high biodiversity. Specifically, hazelnut plantations have adapted in a definite area in Sicily (the Nebroidi park) due to specific morphological and climatic characteristics. However, many of these plantations are not used today due to adverse conditions, both to collect hazelnuts and to reach hazel groves. Though a geospatial analysis, the present paper aims to identify which hazelnut contexts can be actively used for agricultural, economic (e.g., introduction of a circular economy) and energetic purposes (to establish a potential agro-energetic district). The examination revealed the most suitable areas giving several criteria (e.g., slope, road system), ensuring an effective cultivation and consequent harvesting of hazelnuts and (ii) providing security for the operators since many of hazelnut plants are placed in very sloped contexts that are difficult to reach by traditional machines. In this sense, this paper also suggests optimal mechanization processes for harvesting hazelnuts in this part of Sicily. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview The Analysis of the Cause-Effect Relation between Tractor Overturns and Traumatic Lesions Suffered by Drivers and Passengers: A Crucial Step in the Reconstruction of Accident Dynamics and the Improvement of Prevention
Agriculture 2017, 7(12), 97; doi:10.3390/agriculture7120097
Received: 5 October 2017 / Revised: 26 November 2017 / Accepted: 27 November 2017 / Published: 2 December 2017
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Abstract
The evaluation of the dynamics of accidents involving the overturning of farm tractors is difficult for both engineers and coroners. A clear reconstruction of the causes, vectorial forces, speed, acceleration, timing and direction of rear, front and side rollovers may be complicated by
[...] Read more.
The evaluation of the dynamics of accidents involving the overturning of farm tractors is difficult for both engineers and coroners. A clear reconstruction of the causes, vectorial forces, speed, acceleration, timing and direction of rear, front and side rollovers may be complicated by the complexity of the lesions, the absence of witnesses and the death of the operator, and sometimes also by multiple overturns. Careful analysis of the death scene, vehicle, traumatic lesions and their comparison with the mechanical structures of the vehicle and the morphology of the terrain, should help experts to reconstruct the dynamics of accidents and may help in the design of new preventive equipment and procedures. Full article
Open AccessReview Whole-Body Vibration in Farming: Background Document for Creating a Simplified Procedure to Determine Agricultural Tractor Vibration Comfort
Agriculture 2017, 7(10), 84; doi:10.3390/agriculture7100084
Received: 19 July 2017 / Revised: 25 September 2017 / Accepted: 26 September 2017 / Published: 29 September 2017
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Abstract
Operator exposure to high levels of whole-body vibration (WBV) presents risks to health and safety and it is reported to worsen or even cause back injuries. Work activities resulting in operator exposure to whole-body vibration have a common onset in off-road work such
[...] Read more.
Operator exposure to high levels of whole-body vibration (WBV) presents risks to health and safety and it is reported to worsen or even cause back injuries. Work activities resulting in operator exposure to whole-body vibration have a common onset in off-road work such as farming. Despite the wide variability of agricultural surface profiles, studies have shown that with changing soil profile and tractor speed, the accelerations resulting from ground input present similar spectral trends. While on the one hand such studies confirmed that tractor WBV emission levels are very dependent upon the nature of the operation performed, on the other, irrespective of the wide range of conditions characterizing agricultural operations, they led researchers to set up a possible and realistic simplification and standardization of tractor driver comfort testing activities. The studies presented herewith indicate the usefulness, and the possibility, of developing simplified procedures to determine agricultural tractor vibration comfort. The results obtained could be used effectively to compare tractors of the same category or a given tractor when equipped with different seats, suspension, tyres, etc. Full article
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Other

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Open AccessFeature PaperTechnical Note Mechatronic Solutions for the Safety of Workers Involved in the Use of Manure Spreader
Agriculture 2017, 7(11), 95; doi:10.3390/agriculture7110095
Received: 25 September 2017 / Revised: 19 October 2017 / Accepted: 30 October 2017 / Published: 6 November 2017
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Abstract
An internationally acknowledged requirement is to analyze and provide technical solutions for prevention and safety during the use and maintenance of manure spreader wagons. Injuries statistics data and specific studies show that particular constructive criticalities have been identified on these machines, which are
[...] Read more.
An internationally acknowledged requirement is to analyze and provide technical solutions for prevention and safety during the use and maintenance of manure spreader wagons. Injuries statistics data and specific studies show that particular constructive criticalities have been identified on these machines, which are the cause of serious and often fatal accidents. These accidents particularly occur during the washing and maintenance phases—especially when such practices are carried out inside the hopper when the rotating parts of the machine are in action. The current technical standards and the various safety requirements under consideration have not always been effective for protecting workers. To this end, the use of SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) allowed us to highlight critical and positive aspects of the different solutions studied for reducing the risk due to contact with the rotating parts. The selected and tested solution consists of a decoupling system automatically activated when the wheels of the wagon are not moving. Such a solution prevents the contact with the moving rotating parts of the machine when the worker is inside the hopper. This mechatronic solution allowed us to obtain a prototype that has led to the resolution of the issues related to the use of the wagon itself: in fact, the system guarantees the stopping of manure spreading organs in about 12 s from the moment of the wheels stopping. Full article
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Open AccessTechnical Note Innovative Solution for Reducing the Run-Down Time of the Chipper Disc Using a Brake Clamp Device
Agriculture 2017, 7(8), 71; doi:10.3390/agriculture7080071
Received: 18 July 2017 / Revised: 2 August 2017 / Accepted: 17 August 2017 / Published: 20 August 2017
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Abstract
Wood-chippers are widely used machines in the forestry, urban and agricultural sectors. The use of these machines implies various risks for workers, primarily the risk of contact with moving and cutting parts. These machine parts have a high moment of inertia that can
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Wood-chippers are widely used machines in the forestry, urban and agricultural sectors. The use of these machines implies various risks for workers, primarily the risk of contact with moving and cutting parts. These machine parts have a high moment of inertia that can lead to entrainment with the cutting components. This risk is particularly high in the case of manually fed chippers. Following cases of injury with wood-chippers and the improvement of the technical standard (ComitéEuropéen de Normalisation-European Norm) EN 13525: 2005 + A2: 2009, this technical note presents the prototype of an innovative system to reduce risks related to the involved moving parts, based on the “brake caliper” system and electromagnetic clutch for the declutching of the power take-off (PTO). The prototype has demonstrated its potential for reducing the run-down time of the chipper disc (95%) and for reducing the worker’s risk of entanglement and entrainment in the machine’s feed mouth. Full article
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