Advancing Over the Top Citrus Harvesting Equipment for Juice Markets in High Density Groves

Period of Performance: 01/01/2013 - 12/31/2013

$449K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Geo-Spider, Inc
4406 NW 77 Terrace
Gainesville, FL 32606
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Abstract

We are seeking to develop a new technological approach to managing and harvesting citrus in High Density Groves, which is an emerging production system that offers solutions to the Florida citrus industries battles with pest, diseases, and high cost of labor. This multi-function platform will be used for harvesting as well as other production tasks such as spraying, hedging, mowing, and etc. The long term objective is to interchangeably harvest either fresh market or process destined fruit with the same platform. This USDA SBIR Phase II proposal will develop an Over the Top Citrus Harvesting (OTCH) system called the GeoSpider, which is specifically designed for high density groves. The GeoSpider is a multi-purpose equipment system which will operate in high-density size-controlled groves much in the same way that a tractor and implements operate in traditional field agriculture. The prime mover will be an Over the Top Platform (OTP) which is sized for the APS citrus grove. The most critical function will be citrus harvesting using mass harvesting approaches for process fruit market. In phase I, we developed and tested the Over the Top Citrus Harvester (OTCH) approach for mass harvesting, along with designing a suitable concept Over the Top Platform (OTP), which will support and power the OTCH, and allow mounting various implements for grove management. This Phase II project development will implement the mass harvesting system on an enhanced performance OTP with load leveling, along with the catch frame and material handling systems. In Phase I, prototype testing was conducted under research controlled field conditions, while the proposed Phase II will fully develop the Geo-Spider OTCH prototype and further validate mass harvesting under commercial grove conditions. Long term, Geo-Spider will have mass and selective harvesting capability plus other functionality which will give GeoSpider a significant market advantage and thus should be highly attractive to large and small citrus growers and custom production and harvesting companies. plan with our manufacturering partners, and potential investors so that by the end of Phase II we will be ready to implement the Phase III plan.