09 April 2022, Brazil: Located in Northeast corner of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Vacaria is a city known in Brazil for its oceanic climate and the large production of apples. This February, as fruit farmers in Vacaria prepared for their long-expected harvest, they are welcoming a special guest, the XAG R150 Unmanned Ground Vehicle, which has demonstrated its power of precision in the apple orchards.
The Apple Challenge Arises
According to the Gaucho Association of Apple Producers (Agapomi) in Rio Grande do Sul, 88% of the state’s apple output and 37% of the country’s total production were concentrated in the vicinity of Vacaria. The natural benefit of breeding temperate fruit crops has made RASIP, one of the largest apple producing companies in Brazil, to set their 400-hectare plantation here to grow Gala and Fuji, the two cultivars of apple with excellent quality that meet the most demanding markets.
In early 2022, RASIP embraced a satisfying harvest in their vast apple orchard. However, due to the capricious weather bringing drought and hail to the blossom season, a trend of production decline in the Fuji variety has been spotted among the region.
The Plantation owners also have to pay for the inflation price of fertilizers that are necessary to maintain high-quality apple produce. The dwindling crop yield and rising input costs have made a bumper harvest much more challenging in the coming years.
Plan For the Future of Apple
With the aim to seek a more resilient farming solution against climate change and soaring fertilizer prices, RASIP invited Timber, XAG’s local partner in Brazil, and the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) to get XAG R150 involved for the first time in an apple tree spraying demonstration.
Water sensitive papers were placed among the apple trees to record the spray effect. After the operator carefully planned the route and played with a few clicks on the controller, the XAG R150 started moving autonomously along rows of apple trees. Equipped with the JetSprayer system, the XAG R150 could deliver atomized liquid with adjustable spray angle right onto the target tree branches, leaving a standard even coverage of blue marks on the water sensitive papers.
Over the next months, RASIP is planning a further collaboration with Timber to develop more on-farm applications of the XAG R150 Unmanned Ground Vehicle. “After examining the spray result, we found that the XAG R150 is at an advantage in making crop protection easier for our newly introduced dwarfed-apple cultivar. We are excited to see our most popular apples will grow under the care of precision farming technology,” said Webber, the representative of RASIP.