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AgriEngineering, Volume 3, Issue 4 (December 2021) – 7 articles

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Article
Development, Fabrication and Performance Evaluation of Mango Pulp Extractor for Cottage Industry
by , , , , , , , and
AgriEngineering 2021, 3(4), 827-839; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriengineering3040052 - 21 Oct 2021
Abstract
The loss of fresh fruits after harvesting is not new since it has constantly been a challenge for humankind. The growing population in developing countries, where food shortages exist, require serious food security measures to address hunger and malnutrition. Present research focused on [...] Read more.
The loss of fresh fruits after harvesting is not new since it has constantly been a challenge for humankind. The growing population in developing countries, where food shortages exist, require serious food security measures to address hunger and malnutrition. Present research focused on the development, fabrication and testing of mango pulp extractor to assist small-scale fruit farmers in the countryside with a view to minimizing fruit spoilage. The unit, whose major material was food grade stainless steel (SS-304), consists of major components such as teflon brushes mounted shaft, motor, main frame, hopper, extraction compartment, pulp outlet, fruit residue outlet, perforated sieve and bearings. After construction, the machine was tested at three feed rate (2.0, 2.5, 3.0 kg/min) and extraction speed levels (500, 900 and 1400 rpm). Each of these factors was replicated three times, which resulted into 3 × 3 × 3 factorial experimental design. The optimum operating parameters for maximum pulp yield, maximum extraction efficiency and minimum extraction losses were determined. The physicochemical analysis of the extracted pulp was also carried out. Results revealed a maximum pulp yield of 77.9%, highest extraction efficiency of 96.03% and highest extraction loss of 9.3%. The mango pulp extraction machine was found to be affordable, easy to operate and maintain. The breakeven point of the machine was found to be 40 h if the machine is operated at its peak capacity. Therefore, it is recommended for small-scale farmers and for cottage industry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Machine Automation & Autonomy in Agriculture)
Article
Energy Efficiency of Variable Rate Fertilizer Application in Coffee Production in Brazil
AgriEngineering 2021, 3(4), 815-826; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriengineering3040051 - 19 Oct 2021
Viewed by 236
Abstract
Coffee is a crop of great relevance in socioeconomic terms for Brazilian agribusiness, which is the world's largest producer in cultivated areas. The implementation of precision agriculture in the coffee culture has provided countless benefits to its development, which over the years has [...] Read more.
Coffee is a crop of great relevance in socioeconomic terms for Brazilian agribusiness, which is the world's largest producer in cultivated areas. The implementation of precision agriculture in the coffee culture has provided countless benefits to its development, which over the years has been cultivated in the same area. However, there is a lack of studies that address the impact of the application of variable-rates inputs in soil on the energy efficiency and sustainability of these systems. This study aimed to analyze how variable-rate fertilization influences energy efficiency in coffee growing. A production area subjected to variable and fixed rates of fertilizer in alternating rows was evaluated. Geo-referenced yield data was collected to assess yield response for fixed and variable rate applications. The energy assessment was combined with the Geographic Information System (GIS) to determine site-specific energy indicators. To determine the energy flow, only NPK fertilizer applications were considered as inputs and the yield as output. The results obtained indicated that the variable rate fertilizer application has a small difference, indicating greater energy efficiency concerning the applied fertilizer and coffee production per crop season. It was observed in the 06/07 crop, the incorporated energy was 10.7 MJ kg−1 for VR and 10.2 MJ kg−1 for UR and for the 07/08 crop it was 30.7 MJ kg−1 for VR and 34.9 MJ kg−1 for UR. The energy balance was more efficient at variable rates, as it provided fertilizer savings without compromising yield. However, the difference between the embodied energy per mass of coffee produced was very small compared to the fixed rate. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Assessment on Precision Agriculture)
Technical Note
Design and Test of a Jet Remote Control Spraying Machine for Orchards
AgriEngineering 2021, 3(4), 797-814; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriengineering3040050 - 17 Oct 2021
Viewed by 287
Abstract
Aimed at issues associated with the poor air supply and poor automatic targeting accuracy of existing orchard sprayers, this paper designs a jet-type orchard remote control sprayer with automatic targeting which is suitable for standardized orchards in hilly and mountainous areas. By optimizing [...] Read more.
Aimed at issues associated with the poor air supply and poor automatic targeting accuracy of existing orchard sprayers, this paper designs a jet-type orchard remote control sprayer with automatic targeting which is suitable for standardized orchards in hilly and mountainous areas. By optimizing the structure of the diversion box, the uniformity of deposition and penetration ability of the pesticide droplets to the fruit tree canopy are improved, and a uniform wild field distribution is realized simultaneously. An accurate positioning of the fruit tree canopy space orientation is achieved through automatic targeting and azimuthal adjustment systems. When the target is detected, the solenoid valve is controlled to open, and vice versa, and the distance from the nozzle to the fruit tree canopy is adjusted in real time to improve the utilization rate of pesticides. The test results show that the effective range of the jet-type orchard remote control sprayer is no more than 3.5 m, and the maximum flow rate range is 6~6.5 L/min. Within the effective spraying range, the farther the distance is, the higher the automatic targeting accuracy. The pesticide droplets sprayed by the spraying machine have a certain penetration ability, and the uniformity of the droplets is good, which solves solidification problems caused by the penetration of pesticide into the soil. This research provides a reference for jet spraying operation and automatic targeting spraying structure design. Full article
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Article
Extraction of Soil Solution into a Microfluidic Chip
AgriEngineering 2021, 3(4), 783-796; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriengineering3040049 - 14 Oct 2021
Viewed by 353
Abstract
Collecting real-time data on physical and chemical parameters of the soil is a prerequisite for resource-efficient and environmentally sustainable agriculture. For continuous in situ measurement of soil nutrients such as nitrate or phosphate, a lab-on-chip approach combined with wireless remote readout is promising. [...] Read more.
Collecting real-time data on physical and chemical parameters of the soil is a prerequisite for resource-efficient and environmentally sustainable agriculture. For continuous in situ measurement of soil nutrients such as nitrate or phosphate, a lab-on-chip approach combined with wireless remote readout is promising. For this purpose, the soil solution, i.e., the water in the soil with nutrients, needs to be extracted into a microfluidic chip. Here, we present a soil-solution extraction unit based on combining a porous ceramic filter with a microfluidic channel with a 12 µL volume. The microfluidic chip was fabricated from polydimethylsiloxane, had a size of 1.7 cm × 1.7 cm × 0.6 cm, and was bonded to a glass substrate. A hydrophilic aluminum oxide ceramic with approximately 37 Vol.-% porosity and an average pore size of 1 µm was integrated at the inlet. Soil water was extracted successfully from three types of soil—silt, garden soil, and sand—by creating suction with a pump at the other end of the microfluidic channel. For garden soil, the extraction rate at approximately 15 Vol.-% soil moisture was 1.4 µL/min. The amount of extracted water was investigated for 30 min pump intervals for the three soil types at different moisture levels. For garden soil and sand, water extraction started at around 10 Vol.-% soil moisture. Silt showed the highest water-holding capacity, with water extraction starting at approximately 13 Vol.-%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Novel Technologies to Improve Soil Productivity)
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Article
Modeling and Assessing Heat Transfer of Piglet Microclimates
AgriEngineering 2021, 3(4), 768-782; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriengineering3040048 - 08 Oct 2021
Viewed by 386
Abstract
High piglet pre-weaning mortality rates can be attributed to poor creep area microclimate resulting in negative productivity, welfare, and economic consequences. A piglet mechanistic steady-state thermal balance model was developed using previous models and expanded to assess (a) thermal interactions of multiple pigs [...] Read more.
High piglet pre-weaning mortality rates can be attributed to poor creep area microclimate resulting in negative productivity, welfare, and economic consequences. A piglet mechanistic steady-state thermal balance model was developed using previous models and expanded to assess (a) thermal interactions of multiple pigs and (b) conduction heat transfer. The piglet Effective Environment Temperature (EET) equation was also modified to incorporate piglet age (day 0 to 30) and a conduction heat transfer term. Model parameters were validated with empirical data consisting of the thermal component (dry-bulb temperature, Tdb; mean radiant temperature, TMR; airspeed, U; mat underside temperature, Tm) of the microclimate and dimension data of the piglets (i.e., body weight, length, height, width, and calculated surface area). Model results demonstrate that the common microclimate supplemental heat sources (heat mats and heat lamps; HL) can meet the needs of the piglets. The new EET was more consistent for a novel semi-enclosed heated microclimate (SEHM) in comparison to the HL. This demonstrates the benefit of precision technologies over manually adjusted supplemental heat sources. The experimental data and model results suggest further development of an ideal thermal index for piglet microclimates needs to account for variations of piglet health and body condition to be more applicable in industry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovative Technology in Livestock Production)
Review
Smart Indoor Farms: Leveraging Technological Advancements to Power a Sustainable Agricultural Revolution
AgriEngineering 2021, 3(4), 728-767; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriengineering3040047 - 06 Oct 2021
Viewed by 497
Abstract
Conventional farming necessitates a large number of resources and infrastructure such as land, irrigation, manpower to manage farms, etc. Modern initiatives are required to automate conventional farms. Smart indoor farms offer the potential to remedy the shortfalls of conventional farms by providing a [...] Read more.
Conventional farming necessitates a large number of resources and infrastructure such as land, irrigation, manpower to manage farms, etc. Modern initiatives are required to automate conventional farms. Smart indoor farms offer the potential to remedy the shortfalls of conventional farms by providing a controlled, intelligent, and smart environment. This paper presents a three-dimensional perspective consisting of soilless farming, energy harvesting, and smart technologies, which could be considered as the three important characteristics of smart indoor farms. A six-layer smart indoor farms architecture has also been proposed, which explains how data are collected using various sensors and devices and then transmitted onto the cloud infrastructure for further analysis and control through various layers. Artificial lighting, smart nutrition management, and artificial climate control, to name a few, are some of the important requirements for smart indoor farms while considering control and service management factors. The major bottleneck in installing such systems is both the economical and the technical constraints. However, with the evolution of technology (and when they become widely available in the near future), a more favourable farming scenario may emerge. Furthermore, smart indoor farms could be viewed as a potential answer for meeting the demands of a sustainable agricultural revolution as we move closer to Agriculture 4.0. Finally, in order to adapt smart indoor farms and their study scope, our work has presented various research areas to potential researchers. Full article
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Article
On the Technical Performance Characteristics of Horticultural Lamps
AgriEngineering 2021, 3(4), 716-727; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriengineering3040046 - 28 Sep 2021
Viewed by 622
Abstract
Recent advances in light emitting diode (LED) technology have provided exciting opportunities for plant lighting applications, and it is expected that LED lighting will soon overtake the still common use of high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting technology. Because LED lighting offers novel capabilities, extensive [...] Read more.
Recent advances in light emitting diode (LED) technology have provided exciting opportunities for plant lighting applications, and it is expected that LED lighting will soon overtake the still common use of high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting technology. Because LED lighting offers novel capabilities, extensive research is needed to identify optimal lighting practices for the large number of crops grown by commercial greenhouse growers. Plant scientists and growers facing decisions about plant lighting systems do not always have sufficient information about lamp performance characteristics. In this paper, we reported on various technical performance characteristics for 18 lamp types commonly used for plant production, and compared these characteristics with the characteristics of sunlight. The results showed a substantial range of performance characteristics, highlighting the importance of a careful assessment before selecting a light source for horticultural applications. The data presented in this paper can be used to assess the suitability of a specific light source for a particular horticultural application. Full article
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