Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering


26 Jan 2024

Loughborough expertise central to UK fruit production improvements

Man in field with technology scanning trees

Developments at Loughborough University are helping tackle problems at the heart of the UK’s fruit production industry.

Labour shortages, environmental impact and efficiency of output are all areas that will look to be improved as a result of work undertaken by academics within the University’s Department of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering.

Experts at the University have now implemented a specialised navigation system which will be used to assist in two projects focused on improving the country’s horticultural landscape.

Both projects, which have a total funding pot of £6 million behind them, are focused on using cutting-edge technology to improve the efficiency of fruit production in the UK – whether through fruit-picking robots or the creation of digital orchards.

The £4.5millon Precision Orchard Management for the Environment (POME) project is a four-year venture led by Hutchinsons alongside external stakeholders – including project partner NIAB. Funded by commercial partners, DEFRA and Innovate UK, the work will digitally examine and scan fruit trees in fine detail to generate precision dosing maps for blossom, fruit thinning, fertiliser application, growth regulators, pest controls and fungicides – whilst creating a more accurate yield forecast for growers.

The Area-H project, launched in collaboration with Antobot and other external stakeholders, sees the university-developed navigation system being implemented to assist with the creation and support of agricultural autonomous robots in the field. The three-year undertaking received a total of £1.5 million in funding from DEFRA and Innovate UK.