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Vineyard device saves back, wet feet and time

23/05/2016 2:00:00 p.m.


Lincoln engineering student Mike Liao has designed a machine to make work easier and more efficient in vineyards.

It allows for grape picking, leaf clipping and pruning while sitting down.
 
Mike says the fruiting wire for a viticulture position system defines the position of working.
 
“This wire’s height can vary depending on different type of trellis system. But one thing most trellis systems have in common is they are relatively low. The working position is usually much lower than an adult human’s comfortable working range.”
 
“Thus, the solution — come up with an adjustable chair which hold workers into comfortable position,” Mike says.
 
He says the device is designed to make people’s work easier. However, the side effect of comfortable working is a quality assured working period and better efficiency- in this case by up to 20 per cent in harvesting time.
 
“This device also raises people’s feet from the ground which can be cold and wet. Working with cold and wet feet is not ideal for anybody.”
 
The idea come from working in the University vineyard, he says, where he found he suffered from a sore back himself.
 
“So I started to wonder if there is something I can do to improve the experience.”
 
When the course required he comes up with a project related to agriculture he thought it might be a good chance to do just that.
 
The “vineyard assistant device” took about two months from start to its successful field test on May 6.
 
Mike is not looking to commercialise it at this stage, but it will be making an appearance, along with Lincoln University, at this year’s Fieldays, from 15 to 18 June, and will be in the Innovation Tent.
 
Images: Course tutor Dr Majeed Safa, left, Department of Environmental Management technician Warwick Hill who built the prototype, and Mike Liao with the device.
Viticulture lecturer Dr Amber Parker gives Mike’s machine a run.
 

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