Waterjet cutting technology has received a lot of traction in recent decades in the agriculture sector. The applications of waterjet cutting in agriculture apply in multiple spheres. This article will discuss these applications and why water jet cutting is an excellent fit for the agriculture industry.
Waterjet Cutting Overview
Waterjet cutting utilizes the high force of pressurized water to create the cuts. This method is one of the best industrial cutting processes. It applies to all types of materials, such as metals, wood, plastics, glass, ceramics, paper, rubber, foam, etc. Besides agriculture, waterjet cutting finds vast applications in other sectors such as aerospace, military, architecture, manufacturing, medical, and many others.
How Waterjet Cutting Helps the Agriculture Sector?
Waterjet cutting helps in driving agricultural tasks at every stage, from harvesting to processing to cutting. The unique features of waterjet, such as the absence of a physical blade, no heat-affected zones, and high precision bring several benefits to the agricultural sector that traditional processes cannot provide. In fact, waterjet cutting technology has been applied in the agricultural sector for several decades now.
What Kind of Agricultural Materials Can be Cut By a Waterjet?
The range of materials that can be cut by a water jet in the agriculture sector is quite wide. These include:
Cutting food is one of the best applications of waterjet in the agriculture industry. Since waterjet is a no-contact method with the food item, it is quite a hygienic way for this application. Cutting of agricultural produce with a water jet is done at multiple stages, from raw material cutting to processing and packaging. Additionally, the lack of contact in the cutting process also eliminates the contamination in the food. This technology applies to cutting all kinds of fruits, vegetables, and meats.
The demand for wood and its production is always increasing. However, the raw material is constrained due to the long time it takes for timber to grow. Therefore, cutting wood requires an efficient and clean cutting process that does not waste any material. Additionally, there is a generation of a lesser amount of dust which results in a cleaner operation.
The purpose of stem cutting in agriculture using a waterjet is usually for weeding application. Additionally, stem cutting is also employed when the requirement is to cut off any flora growth blocking the sunlight on the crops. Stem cutting using a water jet cutter is also done for crop residue management applications.
Waterjet is extremely advantageous over other cutting alternatives when dealing with soil work. Waterjet can cut through any thickness of soil with extreme precision and minimal soil disturbance. These benefits make it a great fit for many stages of agriculture, from seed delivery to fertilization.
What are the Different Applications of Water Jet Technology in Agriculture?
Water jet cutting finds many applications in the agriculture sector. Some of these applications are:
The application of waterjet cutting in food harvesting began as early as 1972. Earlier applications had the problem of using excessive water per acre, which was eliminated by implementing a catcher in the field waterjet cutter that could recycle the used water in the process itself.
This process works exceptionally well when dealing with cutting green vegetables and leafy vegetables. Conventional harvesting methods often tend to ruin these soft vegetables during harvesting itself. Even extremely thin vegetable leaves do not get torn when cutting with a waterjet cutter, maintaining food integrity.
Additionally, harvesting tools such as choppers have the tendency to get blocked in the blade by the crop they are harvesting. This is especially true in the case of hard stems such as sugarcane. Waterjet cutting provides excellent results (Valco et al.) for such crops without the problem of choking or reduced performance as harvesting progresses.
Waterjet is the go-to technology for the food cutting, food processing, and food packaging industry. In this application, waterjet technology can perform every type of cutting function including peeling and trimming of food products.
This application not only includes soft fruits and vegetables but also extends to harder food products like meats with bone. Additionally, waterjet has the ability to cut food products in any shape desired. This can be combined with smart food processing machines that can identify and segregate food items based on their shape. The end result is a significantly faster and completely automated food processing operation.
In the case of meat cutting, there is a great risk of microbial meat contamination when using other cutting methods. However, waterjet manages this problem quite well since it eliminates any physical contact with the meat itself.
Jet injection for fertilization application has completely changed the performance and growth of the agriculture sector. With jet injection, soil can be cut precisely to deliver and deposit the fertilizer right at the roots where the plants can make full use of it.
By adjusting the pressure of water, jet injection completely avoids any damage to the plants or their roots. Additionally, this fertilization method also eliminates the tool wear and tear that occurs due to the tool contact with the soil because the cutting nozzle never touches the soil. Therefore, jet injection ground-cutting fertilization is the better way as compared to alternatives like spokes or furrow openers.
In recent decades, there has been a lot of aversion to using chemicals for weeding purpose. This is because of the harmful toxins that are added to the crops due to chemical weeding. High-pressure water jet cutting provides a safe and effective way of weeding without the use of any chemical substances. In fact, jet weeding can completely destroy the seedlings of the weeds, leading to long-term benefits and a lack of regular weeding requirements.
Tilling and Seeding
Waterjet technology works wonders for cutting soil for tilling purposes while preserving soil integrity. Additionally, seed delivery can be integrated into the system for a fast and efficient operation. This method preserves soil health and is a good fit for residue management.
What are the Benefits of Using Waterjet in Agriculture?
There are several unique benefits that waterjet technology brings to the table in the agriculture sector. Some of these benefits are:
- Waterjet cutting is a green technology. Unlike other methods, it does not depend on chemicals thereby eliminating toxins in the crop. All the water used in the process gets recycled or delivered to the soil, which is a great utilization of water in the farming sector.
- Mechanical tools often tend to overheat, which is quite an unwanted phenomenon when dealing with food products. However, in waterjet cutting, there is no tendency of heating since water is a coolant in itself.
- The physical contact of the cutting tool or human touch is eliminated in waterjet technology. This eliminates the risks of microbial contamination, making it a very hygienic cutting process method.
- Waterjet cutting has extremely low kerf width. This results in minimizing the wastage of food, which is extremely important when dealing with meats. The meat loss in waterjet cutting is the least among any cutting methods.
- When using waterjet for residue cutting, the process can be micromanaged leading to effective crop residue management. This preserves the nutrients in the soil, prevents erosion, and maintains water quality for cultivation.
- Using waterjet technology for working with soil preserves soil structure and prevents soil from being ripped out. It also eliminates the risk of soil compaction, leaving room for seeds to breathe.
- With the application of waterjet technology, every piece of equipment, including harvesters, seeders, weeders, etc. needs fewer passes across the field.
- This technology provides better delivery of fertilizer to the crop, leading to advancement in the fertilization field.
How to Source CNC Waterjet Cutting Machines?
Techni Waterjet is the industry leader in providing waterjet equipment in the agriculture sector. Our CNC waterjet machines provides of the highest quality cutting methods for food products. They come with rugged parts and complimentary software that has all the necessary shapes and programs required in the food industry. There are multiple models to choose from, depending on the scale of operation and the application.
Waterjet technology has been revolutionary for many industries, and the agriculture sector is no exception. After reading all the above-mentioned benefits and use cases of waterjet cutting in agriculture, there is no doubt that this technology can be a game changer for any agricultural application you throw at it.