Operations planning for agricultural harvesters using ant colony optimization

A. Bakhtiari, H. Navid, J. Mehri, R. Berruto, D. D. Bochtis


An approach based on ant colony optimization for the generation for optimal field coverage plans for the harvesting operations using the optimal track sequence principle B-patterns was presented. The case where the harvester unloads to a stationary facility located out of the field area, or in the field boundary, was examined. In this operation type there are capacity constraints to the load that a primary unit, or a harvester in this specific case, can carry and consequently, it is not able to complete the task of harvesting a field area and therefore it has to leave the field area, to unload, and return to continue the task one or more times. Results from comparing the optimal plans with conventional plans generated by operators show reductions in the in-field nonworking distance in the range of 19.3-42.1% while the savings in the total non-working distance were in the range of 18-43.8%. These savings provide a high potential for the implementation of the ant colony optimization approach for the case of harvesting operations that are not supported by transport carts for the out-of-the-field removal of the crops, a practice case that is normally followed in developing countries, due to lack of resources.


B-patterns; harvesting planning; field efficiency

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/2013113-3865