Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Sensing and Automation in Pruning of Tree Fruit Crops: A Review

Version 1 : Received: 23 July 2018 / Approved: 24 July 2018 / Online: 24 July 2018 (05:32:11 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

He, L.; Schupp, J. Sensing and Automation in Pruning of Apple Trees: A Review. Agronomy 2018, 8, 211. He, L.; Schupp, J. Sensing and Automation in Pruning of Apple Trees: A Review. Agronomy 2018, 8, 211.


Pruning is one of the most important tree fruit production activities, which is highly dependent on human labor. Skilled labor is in short supply, and the increasing cost of labor is becoming a big issue for the tree fruit industry. Growers are motivated to seek mechanical or robotic solutions for reducing the amount of hand labor required for pruning. This paper reviews the research and development of sensing and automated systems for branch pruning for tree fruit production. Horticultural advancements, pruning strategies, 3D structure reconstruction of tree branches, as well as practice mechanisms or robotics are some of the developments that need to be addressed for an effective tree branch pruning system. Our study summarizes the potential opportunities for automatic pruning with machine-friendly modern tree architectures, previous studies on sensor development, and efforts to develop and deploy mechanical/robotic systems for automated branch pruning. We also describe two examples of qualified pruning strategies that could potentially simplify the automated pruning decision and pruning end-effector design. Finally, the limitations of current pruning technologies and other challenges for automated branch pruning are described, and possible solutions are discussed.


tree fruit; pruning; sensing; automation; robotics


Engineering, Mechanical Engineering

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