Benvenuti and Sartori - Precision agriculture: advances in vegetable production

Lorenzo Benvenuti* e Luigi Sartori**
Dipartimento Territorio e Sistemi Agro Forestali, Università di Padova, viale dell’Università 16, 35020 Legnaro (PD)

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Key words: precision agriculture, autonomous vehicles, chemical treatments, transplant, sterilisation.

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Abstract

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Precision Agriculture (PA) constitutes one of the most interesting mechanisation innovations also for the horticulture sector. GPS guidance, variability management, the development of expert systems and traceability constitute aspects of PA which can be advantageously applied and further developed in horticulture. The combination of PA and the development of autonomous vehicles and robots, a sector which is more developed in horticulture than in extensive agriculture, could also produce new synergies and opportunities. In the first section, the study briefly examines the origins and precepts of PA and highlights the various lines of development. PA, in fact, can be adopted at increasing levels of complexity, making use of different strategies and technologies which can, although not necessarily, operate on a georeferenced basis. The second section summarily presents the main specific horticulture research studies carried out in recent years. In this section emphasis is placed on studies which have led to the development of systems that can be implemented in the production process, providing concrete examples of machines designed for horticultural production featuring technological characteristics compatible with the adoption of PA. The study concludes with a brief examination of some research studies concerning the development of autonomous vehicles designed for operation inside greenhouses or in the open field.

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