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An electronic sensor records how cherries are damaged during packaging
An electronic sensor records how cherries are damaged during packaging
2019-03-13 18:06:03

INTA researchers from Argentina are developing an electronic cherry

Cherries are known for their red color and smooth and shiny surface, but they stand out for the nutritional and antioxidant properties they possess. They are rich in fibers and in vitamin C and A - in the form of beta carotene - have 85% water and, as they have a non-climacteric maturation pattern, maturity does not advance after harvest.

However, they are also a very delicate product. This means that they do not always reach their destination with optimum quality, especially when it comes to the most distant markets and increasingly demanding consumers.

For this reason, the INTA is conducting a study to extend the cherry's commercial life and preserve its quality.

To minimize the damage suffered by the cherry during the stages of packaging and final transfer, Andres Moltoni -from the Laboratory of Agro-electronics of INTA- and his team are working on the development of a sensor that will record the magnitude of the impacts that occur during the whole packing process. One of the main challenges faced by Moltoni and his team in the laboratory was the design of an electronic device that had a size and weight similar to the caliber and weight of the main cherry varieties produced in Argentina.

"During the packaging, the fruits receive blows that later translate into depressions called pitting," Moltoni said. "Since these blows diminish the commercial value of the cherry, at the request of the INTA Agency in Los Antiguos, we are working to develop a sensor that can shows us the moments in which the greatest impacts are generated. We created a sensor that allows registering the impacts and movements that occur during the whole process, a micro-controller and a wireless transmitter that downloads the information in real time as the electronic cherry enters the different sectors of the production line," stated Nicolas Clemares, a specialist of the Laboratory of Agro-electronics of the INTA.

In addition to having a small size, the electronic device must be waterproof, as cherries are submerged in water throughout most of the process.

Thanks to the work they carry out together with specialists in cultivation, the electronic device will be tested in two packing plants in the area of Los Antiguos and it will be calibrated by the specialists of the INTA Agency. "We must emphasize that the packaging lines selected for the study have state-of-the-art cherry processing technology and, in both cases, electronic calibrators", said Juan Santiago Arhancet, a specialist of the Los Antiguos Agency. "This development will improve the quality of production offered by local producers," said Fernando Manavella, INTA fruit specialist, who said that "the increase in the quality of the fruit that is exported will allow, not only the opening of new markets, but also increasing the country's agribusiness added value."

85% of the cherry produced in Argentina is exported to Europe, the United States, Hong Kong, Singapore, and China, a country recently added to the list of destinations.

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