Mechanical harvesting in traditional olive orchards: oli-picker case study
University of Reggio Calabria, Department of Agraria, Feo di Vito, IT 89122 Reggio
Calabria, Italy; *Correspondence: firstname.lastname@example.org
Olive harvesting is one of the most laborious and expensive agricultural practices. Indeed, it absorbs 50% of the product value, and this is due to the continuous increasing of labour from one hand and to the lake of labourers from the other hand. Traditional olive orchards are characterized by the presence of large, century old trees and a very low planting density. These conditions make it difficult to plan sustainable and highly productive harvesting models, and therefore require the employment of partially or fully mechanized harvesting systems. In this context, experimental trials were carried out in a traditional olive orchard, situated in Calabria (Southern Italy), in order to assess technical and economic aspects of a commonly used harvester named oli-picker. This machine allows olive harvesting from tree canopy thanks to a spiked cylindrical comb mounted on a hydraulic articulated arm. Particularly, data about operational working time as well as working productivity were collected for technical purposes, whereas economic evaluation considered harvesting cost expressed in terms of cost per hour, cost per unit of product (1 kg of olives) and average cost per hectare. The obtained results highlighted that working productivity referred to the operative time, was 0.37 trees h-1 worker-1, while the cost per kg of harvested olives was 0.20 € kg-1. From the conducted study, it emerges that encouraging results may be reached by mechanizing harvesting operation even in century old orchards.