National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) in collaboration with Toyo Seiki Co., Ltd., and Saitama Industrial Technology Center have developed a head binding machine for overwintering Chinese cabbage. This machine lightens the head binding work and it also enables the operator to work comfortably and efficiently by himself. The developed machine will be marketed this autumn.
Head binding work has been carried out for the overwintering Chinese cabbage to protect the head part of cabbage from frost damage. In this work, multiple outer leaves are manually set upright to wrap the head and the upper parts are tied together with straws or polypropylene strings (PP strings). It has been widely practiced from the past in the production areas to ensure freshness during the long-term shipments of Chinese cabbages. However, this work overlaps with the harvest time of Chinese cabbages during fall and winter, and it requires a lot of workforce. Moreover, since head binding work is done with awkward postures of bending at the waist and knees in narrow places for a long time, and securing employment labor in recent years has become difficult because of aging of workers, there is a demand for turning heavy labor into light work.
Therefore, NARO (Headquarters: Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture), in collaboration with Toyo Seiki Co., Ltd. (Kounosu City, Saitama Prefecture) and Saitama Industrial Technology Center (Kawaguchi City, Saitama Prefecture), has developed a walking type Chinese cabbage head binding machine. The developed machine continuously binds the upper part of the head with a piece of PP string for Chinese cabbages cultivated by planting pattern with one row in a ridge. A single operator can work comfortably without bending at the waist and knees. There were no binding mistakes when tested during the field tests, and the work efficiency was about 420 pieces / h, which was almost equal or higher than that of manual work.
In the future, further improvements to achieve high efficiency will be carried out. Test marketing is scheduled to begin in November 2021 via Toyo Seiki Co., Ltd.