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Quantifying the benefits of alternative fieldwork patterns in a potato cultivation system

Zhou, K., Jensen, A. Leck, Bochtis, D.D., Sørensen, C.G.
Computers and electronics in agriculture 2015 v.119 pp. 228-240
algorithms, case studies, field experimentation, models, planting, potatoes
The fieldwork pattern, which is the ordered traversal sequence of in-field tracks by the machine, plays an important role in operational efficiency. A sub-optimal fieldwork pattern is a main reason for lost time in fieldwork operations due to excessive non-working distance and time. Even though algorithms exist that can calculate an optimal route plan of a specific operation that covers the field with minimum non-working distance and time, so far no commercial navigation-aiding system for agricultural vehicles exist that can implement this type of patterns. Yet, the implementation of applicable standard fieldwork pattern in real life operations can provide near-optimal solutions compared to the simple fieldwork patterns generally selected by operators.In this paper, the potential savings from following an alternative fieldwork pattern instead of the one selected by an experienced operator are assessed. We simulate the distance and time corresponding to five selected common fieldwork patterns and compare them with the operators’ selected fieldwork pattern. In order to simulate the fieldwork patterns, four standard turn models, which are formulas for calculating the turning distance of various types of turns, are fitted to actual turns recorded in field experiments, and the turn models together with a model of in-field transport and material reloading are evaluated. As a case study three sequential operations of potato cultivation (bed forming, stone separation and planting) were recorded and analysed in three different fields. The simulation results showed significant potential savings of both distance and time in all three operations and all three case study fields by selecting the best fieldwork pattern instead of the actual selected pattern: For bed forming the savings were up to 18.4% in distance and 32.7% in time; For stone separation the savings of distance and time were up to 35.0% and 60.9%; For the planting the savings were up to 22.6% in distance and 24.8% in time. The increase in time-based field efficiency was up to 2.7%, 7.2% and 7.1% for bed forming, stone separation and planting, respectively.