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Smart Shoot Remover

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SSR (Smart Shoot Remover)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2018-09-30

Shoot removal in vines and fruit trees is a necessary action to get done every year or twice a year to improve the quality and the size of fruits and grape clusters. In the past and still nowadays, this job was done cutting the shoots with scissors or directly pulling them off the stem with the hand. This is a hard and inefficient job that takes many hours in a very uncomfortable position for the workers. At the moment, there is not a tool in the market that does specifically shoot removal, and the ones used, altogether with the existing machinery involve high economic costs and are a potential risk for the health of the workers and plants. Also, the machinery produces a damage in the environment, compacting soil, polluting the ecosystem and releasing greenhouse gasses.
The SSR tool is a cost-effective tool that helps to remove green shoots in vineyards and fruit trees. With the use of SSR for doing shoot removal there is a potential to reduce operational costs of more than 60€ per hour, as well the emissions of CO2 that the machinery produces. SSR means not just money save but also time and possible injuries due to bad practices. Also, the price per unit is hugely lower than the price of its direct competitors.
The project started in 2014 with the initial design that became a first prototype in 2015 and was tested for vines. Later the prototype was adapted to other fruit trees with different heights and trunks. With the definitive prototype the production chain was set and the components (brushes, iron connections, wooden handle) were completely integrated. More than 4000 prototypes were tested in 10 countries (Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Croatia, Chile, and Argentina) at partner vineyards, fruit producers and nurseries.
To protect the intellectual property of SSR we applied for an utility model in Spain and Chile, both of them granted. The application for European Patent was not possible but SSR is also granted with an utility model in Germany that ensures the possibility of the product to be marketed in that country.
There is already a plan for industrialization of SSR in the upcoming years that consists, from the technical point of view, in an improvement of materials, changing the different parts to make the tool lighter, durable and stronger; addition of new parts as handgrip and rollers for easier use and less damage for the plant; adaptation to other crops and to crops with protectors against animals. From the business point of view we have planned to participate in fairs in different countries, invest in marketing and advertising and detail plans to reach German, Italian, USA and Chilean markets.
The SSR will change completely a market that goes towards a full mechanization of the field with a tool significative simpler than the tools and machines that are nowadays used for shoot removal. The SSR is not just much cheaper than its direct competitors, but also more durable, safer for worker and plant and respectful with the environment. The simplicity of the tool makes its price very low (just €60 end user price and €3 the interchangeable brushes) and the durability of materials makes its lifespan very long. It is not composed by electrical parts that forces the user to carry heavy batteries and pay the electricity cost, neither is a motorized mechanical machine with need of fuel. SSR does not rely its functionality in the use of herbicides that affect to the plant health, soil and ground water.
SSR will also change the way of working in the field. For the shoot removal there is a need of two people doing the job, one driving the tractor with the adapter and a second one removing by hand the left shoots that the machine could not reach. With SSR one person can easily do the complete removal faster and with less effort.