news: Netherlands: Demonstration of Chrisje and ZZ Comet on an asparagus field

A demonstration took place on Monday in an asparagus field in Ossendrecht, The Netherlands, showcasing mechanical harvesters such as the ZZ Comet and Chrisje, Growers and machine developers were present to give extra information about mechanical harvesting, and about which varieties work best for the double row system needed for these machines. Spectators from the Netherlands and abroad were present to see the pros and cons of mechanisation for themselves.

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According to Corné Ooms (ZZ Comet) and Angelique Christiaens (Chrisje) these machines are often seen as competitors which is unfair because both machines work very differently. The ZZ Comet is able to select each asparagus and the Chrisje is not a selective machine. 

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Corne Ooms and Angelique Christiaens

ZZ Comet

The ZZ Comet is owned by five partners, the united ASM C.V., which includes the De Brabantse Wal. The partners have agreed to wait on starting sales, but would like to make a maximum of ten machines available for rental in the harvest of 2013 with a limited circumference of 300 to 400 kilometres around the Netherlands. 

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The ZZ Comet has a built in sensor which enables the robot to stop at the end of the asparagus beds. The grower receives a text message notifying him that he can go to the next bed of crops. According Corné, the ZZ Comet can save from 30 to 40% on productivity. "It takes a person, over the course of a season, 14.3 seconds to complete a planting cycle. After extensive tests in France, we are already at a point where it takes 9 seconds with this machine", says the grower.

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The biggest advantage of a mechanical harvester, according to Corné, is labour. "A grower cannot afford to have his foreign employee not show up on a Monday morning. Labour is pretty much the biggest obstacle when it comes to growing asparagus and we are now taking that out of the equation."


Jos Christiaens from Christiaens Agro Systems located in Neer developed the fully automatic asperagus harvester back in 1997. The market was not yet ready for it at that time. The acreages were smaller and it was still pretty easy to get enough workers for relatively good prices. This is why we set the first prototype aside," says the director Angelique Christiaens. “We saw that the market was changing around five years ago to the point where we could see that the benefits of the mechanical harvester would be recognised. It was at that time that we decided to move forward with testing and development."

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According to the builder of the machine, 'Chrisje' has a positive effect on the quality of the asparagus. “Due to the fact that the machine combs through the entire asparagus bed with all the roots, broken asparagus, stones and sticks, the result is a more homogeneous bed which has a positive effect on the quality of the asparagus. Anyone who has tried this machine at least once can attest to that”. This machine is already commercially in use in Germany. “The way of working with Chrisje is relatively new. This is why we are going to do extensive tests. A process like this needs to grow slowly, especially in the Netherlands. Countries such as Germany and France are already a bit further," states Angelique.

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Chrisjes capacity is approximately 1 hectare per day in a regular work day of eight hours. “Due to the fact that it completely clears the entire bed, and depending on the variety and the weather, it can take 10 days before the asparagus are long enough. This means that Chrisje can harvest 10 hectares operated by one person. It normally takes 1.5 people per hectare to harvest in the Netherlands. It would normally take 15 people for 10 hectares, which would save 14 people," reports the director.


Publication date: 6/13/2012 



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