In what could be a revolutionizing change for coastal agriculture techniques, scientists are working on a drone that can be used to pluck coconuts from trees. Conceptualized by experts at the ICAR-Central Coastal Agricultural Research Institute and Goa University, ‘Fly-Cocobot’ aims to simplify the process of coconut plucking by making it risk-free. According to a media report , the drone- device flies at the top of a tree and get attached to the trunk with its ‘grabbing arm’. Its cutting arm then opens up to cut the desired bunch of coconuts that can be marked through a remote control device that also houses a screen running the live feed of the drone’s movement.
Speaking about this ‘cocobot’, Goa University professor Rajendra Gad said that the device will allow farmers to pluck coconuts from a safe distance without the need to put human lives at risk while climbing up the tree. The machine will have an operational efficiency of 12-15 palms per hours.
While most manned and unmanned devices that are currently being used for harvesting coconut are not designed to deal with the dual cropping system, this ‘fly cocobot’ has no such problems. It is suitable to be used in mixed cropping plantation of coconut and black pepper, thereby leading to higher returns for farmers who generally avoid adapting the dual cropping because of operational issues.
The prototype ‘cocobot’ that has been designed as a coconut plucking device can also be used to harvest other palms like areca cut, palmyra palm, oil palm and date palm. Further, it can be modified to be used for other farm operation like spraying and pruning.
ICAR-CCRI and Goa University will soon file a joint application for the patent of the idea of this machine to protect their intellectual property.
The ‘fly cocobot’ recently won the first prize at the Kritagya Agtech Hackathon that was launched by ICAR’ National Agricultural Higher Education Project in 2020 to promote farm mechanism. The device triumphed over 784 teams that had registered for the Hackathon.