Diagnostic tool in agriculture

This use case provides highlights from the presentation ofDr.-Ing. Zoltan Gobor, Bavarian State Research Center for Agriculture at ScilabTec 2015.


Germany is the first hop producer in the world and cultivation of hops for commercial production requires a particular environment. As hops are a climbing plant, they are trained to grow up trellises made from strings or wires that support the plants and allow them significantly greater growth with the same sunlight profile.


In Germany, approximately 18,000ha are cultivated under hop and that requires a 8m high trellis system. Each year, the supporting wires are replaced and currently manual fastened which is a long, risky and uncomfortable process depending moreover on the weather conditions.


The idea of automated attachment of supporting wires in hop gardens is protected since 2002 and, since 2008, the German Federal Agency for Food and Agriculture (BLE) funded a joint project in order to optimize the system, develop a prototype and the diagnostic tools.

The device consists of a main assembly mounted on the front-end loader, and a special carrier for the wire coil attached to a three-point linkage of the tractor. 

The attachment of the supporting wires is controlled by a programmable logic controller(PLC) and carried out on defined distances whereas the tractor moves forward along the longitudinal cable with up to 1.8 km/h [1]. The mobile data acquisition system were based on a compact modular data logging system CompactDAQ (National Instrument) and an adequate software solution for data acquisition, created with LabVIEW (National Instrument). The data acquisition system provided important information considering the system performance and allowed error analysis in case of outage.
For the off-line data analyses a Scilab function was developed allowing automated visualisation and analysis of the data. The function returned information about the beginning and ending of single operations, time required for execution of single tasks and the total time of each complete sequence. Furthermore, information about the accuracy, stability and reliability of the subsystems of the prototype during the testing are calculated.


Within a new project the developed prototype and the diagnostic tool should be improved in order to develop a zero-series device. The aim is inter alia development of the on-line diagnostic system based on CompactRIO (National Instrument) LabVIEW FPGA and LabVIEW Real-Time with integration of the Scilab code using LabVIEW to Scilab Gateway.


[1] Gobor, Z., Fröhlich, G. Portner. J. 2013. Automated Attachment of Supporting Wires in High Trellis of Hops – Initial Investigation and Study of Performance of an Advanced Prototype. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 29(1): 11-16. @201