Sep 29, 2016
NWMHRC receives new Blosi platform

The Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center (NWMHRC) recently received their newest piece of equipment thanks to funds provided by the Michigan Tree Fruit Commission.

The NWMHRC staff had the opportunity to test three orchard platforms last spring. Orchard platforms have the potential to increase efficiency in orchard tasks, such as pruning, harvesting, and hanging mating disruption, according to the NWMHRC. The research center’s staff saw the value in the motorized and automated features of all the platforms, but they chose an Italian model made by the company N.Blosi Di Natalino Blosi (S.N.C.).

The Blosi Platform has been used for harvest and pruning of apples and cherries that are produced in high-density orchard systems. They are made to move both horizontally, like a vehicle, as well as vertically to reach the tops of taller trees. They are engineered with technology that is able to lift the platform up in the air, as well rotate the platform to lean into the tree canopy. The flexibility of this machine will allow station staff to work in small and large trees and will accommodate work in orchards planted on side hills, according to NWMHRC.

Because the Blosi Platform was manufactured in Italy, the NWMHRC staff had to wait a few months for the platform to be constructed and delivered. NWMHRC coordinator Nikki Rothwell, said “We are so excited to finally have the platform; there were at least 50 times that I wished we had it this season for various research projects at the station.”

Rothwell explained that this platform would make it easier for plant growth regulator projects, as they need to collect data throughout the canopy of larger sweet cherry trees.

“We can also collect fruit for various studies from the tops and bottoms of the tree – before the platform, we have been using ladders to access the upper most parts of the tree. This platform has the potential to drastically increase our efficiency here at the station.”

Mark Miezio, a Leelanau County grower that serves on the board of the Michigan Tree Fruit Commission, was on hand when the platform was delivered.

“Many growers are starting to embrace some of the new technology that is available for orchards–having a platform at the research station where growers can actually see the impacts of this technology will likely increase the rate of adoption,” said Miezio.  “The Tree Fruit Commission was pleased to help make this platform happen at the NW Station, and we look forward to the further research that will be conducted as a result of this new technology.”

The NWMHRC and Michigan State University would like to thank the Michigan Tree Fruit Commission for making this purchase possible.

For more information, please contact the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center at 231-946-1510.

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