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A mechatronically integrated autonomous seed material generation system for sugarcane: A crop of industrial significance

Nare, Brajesh, Tewari, V.K., Kumar Chandel, Abhilash, Prakash Kumar, Satya, Chethan, C.R.
Industrial crops and products 2019 v.128 pp. 1-12
automation, buds, computer vision, cultivars, cultivation area, cutting, industrial crops, internodes, labor, planting, sugarcane, sugars, torque
Sugarcane is a global industrial crop popular for production of sugar, bioenergy, paper, ethanol, electricity etc. However, its conventional cultivation practice incurs an unnecessary amount of time, labor, costs and seed inputs. A technology was therefore developed for automated generation of sugarcane bud chips (approximately 3 cm) as sugarcane planting material. The system consists of an electronically guided mechanical units for cane feeding, real time bud identification, cutting and separation. Machine vision technique was employed as driver technique for bud identification. A varied ranges of sugarcane diameters and two popular cultivars were chosen to evaluate the system performances of bud identification and synchronized cutting efficiency, throughput capacity, peak power and torque consumption within entire domain of cane stalks. The system process separates the cane stalk into the nodes (buds) and internodes (stalk between two buds). An arm lateral speed of 120 mm/s, blade rotary speed of 800 rpm and cane stalk feed speed of 100 mm/s may be considered for optimum performance outputs. The throughput capacity of the developed system with single cutting unit can range up to 1782 buds/h, thereby generating the seeding material for a hectare of land in 10–12 h. In addition, the system was found suitable for a large domain of cane diameters. Internodes generated accounting over 80% of cane stalk through this system may be utilized for sugar production and other mainstream purposes. Further multiplication of such units as per the cultivation area can be a significant enhancement to the sugarcane mechanization and a replacement to conventional cultivation process that is laborious, time consuming and expensive.