The 29th International Horticultural Congress | Sustaining Lives, Livelihoods and Landscapes | 17-22 August 2014
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Mechanisation, Precision Horticulture and Robotics

Sponsored by the ISHS Commissions Horticultural Engineering and Quality & Postharvest Horticulture

The international symposium on “Mechanisation, Precision Horticulture, and Robotics in Fruit and Vegetable Production” will be held in Brisbane, Australia as part of the International Horticultural Congress 17-22 August 2014 (IHC 2014). This symposium will run for 1-2 days and feature presentations from international experts covering the latest technological innovations and the integration of these technologies into production systems.

What will the fruit or vegetable farm of the future look like? What role will technological advancement play? How can technologies reduce an industry’s environmental footprint or improve production efficiency, worker safety, or crop quality? This symposium will bring together global experts to address these questions. You are cordially invited to participate in this symposium, joining colleagues and industry leaders as we tackle the critical interface between biology and technology.

Many aspects of mechanization in vegetable and fruit production have a long history of evolution and application. But are there better ways to do things? What transformational developments can be applied to take environmental sustainability and productivity to another level? The application of precision spatial technologies to horticulture has lagged behind their use in broad acre crops. How can those technologies be adapted and applied to assist horticulture? The high labor inputs required for fruit and vegetable production suggest widespread opportunities for the application of robotics, but so far this has been largely limited to post-harvest applications. What is on the horizon for robotics in the more variable plant production environment?

This symposium will highlight novel ongoing research efforts to develop new technologies to improve production efficiency and product quality. Experts from around the world will come together to address a critical issue for fruit and vegetable production – the development of practical technological solutions to the production challenges the global industries face.

Oral presentation sessions will be organized by technology, with sessions covering:

  • mechanization
  • precision horticulture
  • application of robotics

The crop scope will include all field-grown fruit (temperate and tropical tree fruit and berries) and vegetables. We welcome paper submissions in each of these areas. By organizing the content in this way, we want to encourage cross-fertilisation of ideas between industries to encourage faster development of technologies that can be used across a range of applications.


John McPhee is based at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA). He is passionate about the use of controlled traffic farming as a means to greatly improve the productivity and environmental sustainability of field crop production systems. He has led a number of projects related to controlled traffic for vegetable production, including research on soil responses to controlled traffic, economic modelling, and working with growers in an effort to address some of the significant mechanisation and operational challenges of controlled traffic adoption. The current focus is to identify a pathway for broader adoption of controlled traffic in an industry challenged by significant machinery diversity, topography issues and economic forces.

Dr. Matthew Whiting has directed Washington State University’s stone fruit physiology research and outreach programme since 2002. This programme has addressed key horticultural and physiological research issues, focusing on sweet cherry and is leading the industry in the transition to high efficiency orchard systems. Considerable emphasis is placed on developing management systems for establishing and maintaining planar architectures and facilitating the incorporation of automation and mechanization.

Dr Qin Zhang is the Director of the Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems, WSU, and a Professor of Agricultural Automation in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at Washington State University, USA. His research interests are in the areas of agricultural automation, intelligent agricultural machinery, and agricultural infotronics. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief for Computers and Electronics in Agriculture.

Keynote Speaker

Professor Salah Sukkarieh is an international expert in the research, development and commercialisation of field robotic systems. He has lead a number of robotics and intelligent systems R&D projects in logistics, commercial aviation, aerospace, education, environment monitoring, agriculture and mining, and has consulted to industry including Rio Tinto, BHP, Patrick Stevedores, Qantas, BAE Systems, QLD Biosecurity, Meat and Livestock Australia, and the NSW DPI amongst others. Salah is the Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at the University of Sydney, and the Director of Research and Innovation at the Australian Centre for Field Robotics.

Scientific Committee

  • Yiannis Ampatzidis (USA)
  • John Fielke (Australia)
  • Jose Guivant (Australia)
  • Jay Katupitiya (Australia)
  • Changying Li (USA)
  • Mark Siemens (USA)
  • Shrini Upadhyaya (USA)
  • Stavros Vougioukas (USA)
  • Paul Weckler (USA)
  • Mark Whitty (Australia)