Harvesting with Ease: The Burro Solution for Citrus Farms

Citrus farming is a vital industry that comes with its fair share of challenges. One of the most labor-intensive tasks in citrus groves is the harvesting process. Traditionally, most citrus is picked into bins, placed in the field, and later collected using forklifts before being trucked from the field to the packing shed. But not all varietals are harvested in the same way. For varieties with sensitive skin, such as Dekopons, bins are replaced by totes to prevent fruit damage. This method comes with marked pain points, particularly when fields are established in ways that restrict the movement of pickers between rows, causing bottlenecks in the process.

Pain points in harvesting methods

In Dekopons, it’s common for trees to grow together or for trees to be positioned along trellises. In either case, the crew of 10 to 14 pickers typically consolidates to a single row.  With many people picking the same row, combined with a supporting tractor plus tote trailer, the area becomes crowded, which slows progress of the crew as a whole. The usual practice of pickers walking through the rows to unload their totes is hindered, leaving those beside the trailer waiting for it to move, and those away from the trailer forced to spend time walking to and from the trailer.

Innovative solutions with Burro

To address these challenges, innovative technology has entered the citrus scene in the form of Burro. Burros are intelligent, AI-driven robots designed to revolutionize the way citrus is harvested. These nimble machines come to the pickers with empty totes, then return to the end of the row when totes are full. The cycle repeats, as Burro always delivers empty totes and returns full of fruit, thanks to Burro’s easy to use autonomy.

By eliminating the need for pickers to onerously carry their totes across rows to trailers, Burros alleviate repetitive movements and tedious walk times, which impair efficiency. With four to six pickers in rows and paired to Burros, picking and dropping off citrus becomes a more consistent flow, reducing bottlenecks in the row, and at the trailer. This results in a notable 30 percent boost in productivity. When combined with the cost savings generated by reduced labor and equipment expenses, the monthly savings with Burros are substantial.

Our growers have noted upwards of $4,000 savings per month when one tractor is replaced with a two Burro equivalent.

Specifics of Burro in citrus harvesting

Burros are particularly well-suited for the delicate harvesting of sensitive-skin citrus varieties like Dekopon. They utilize a 25-pound tote to ensure gentle handling of the fruit. For every four to six pickers, one Burro is employed. An unloader stationed at the edge of the row can support multiple rows to unload the fruit and reset the empty totes efficiently.

For example, a 24-person crew implementing six Burros in a citrus field can lead to a significant increase in efficiency and productivity.

Burro’s extensive capabilities

The applications of Burro extend beyond citrus fields. This intelligent robot is equipped with computer vision and can perform various autonomous tasks including towing, carrying, scouting and more. It works outdoors in orchards and can be used in both outdoor and indoor nursery applications. Burro supports human labor by increasing productivity and reducing or eliminating non-productive tasks and movement. With the touch of a button, workers can watch a fully loaded Burro autonomously navigate to a predetermined drop zone.

Return on investment

Burro in Citrus - ROI Chart

Amplify your workforce with collaborative robots

Learning to use Burro is easy. The company personally trains new clients and also provides easy-to-understand “How to Use Burro” videos here.

To see Burros in action in citrus fields and for more information on how to order one, click here.

Contact Burro for more information:

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