Cranberries – Technology in Action

Technology in Action

The modern cranberry marsh could easily be a candidate for the TV show Modern Marvels.  Efficient operations is dependent on the right mix of know how, technology and the good graces of Mother Nature. The above-repurposed image demonstrates just some of the innovations seen in a modern operation.

  1. Tines to the left
  2. GPS
  3. Right sized equipment
  4. Visual signals

TINES TO THE LEFT: harvesters utilizing tines to strip the berries are a relatively new innovation. Cranberry marshes have a shallow ditch surrounding the bed. Tines on the viewers left are engaged when harvesting on the extreme edge of the bed stripping berries in the ditch.

GPS: tractors utilize GPS technology to precisely harvest the bed.  It might seem a bit of overkill, but sloppy work can miss berries, too much overlap of passes results in wasted time with additional passes. The operator makes the first pass on edge of the bed fixing his location with GPS. His tractor is precisely positioned for the next pass using GPS.  If he is perfectly aligned, he sees a series of green marks on the display.  If a little to the left, red marks appear on the left side of screen.  Very similar to what a pilot sees when landing a plane.  If I were the operator, I would probably day dream from time to time imagining myself as a top gun pilot performing a carrier landing in the dead of night.

RIGHT SIZED EQUIPMENT: the harvester is just the right width so each pass covers just enough ground so that the last pass still utilizes the full width of the equipment without any overlap to complete the process. Precise GPS positioning makes this possible. This combination of technology allows one person to work an entire bed in about 30 minutes.

VISUAL SIGNALS: A series of yellow flags mark the center of the bed.  Cranberry beds are worked starting from the outside edges working towards the center. As an observer, the tractor will always come towards you when on you left side of the bed and away from you when on the right side. Overtime the vines are trained to grow in one direction.  Working the bed along the grain of the vines results in vines neatly lying down rather than getting all fluffed up.


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