This Very Big Machine Picks Very Small Berries

Harvesting the edible parts of any plant in a timely manner usually requires some very specialized tools. Poppy seeds get hoovered up by a giant old-timey lawnmower. Potatoes take a shovel escalator before ending up your plate. And currants—those tasty little berries that usually get made into jam—well, they get this wonky thing


The Samson SFM Technology Blackcurrant harvester is built slightly wider and taller than the plants themselves. Its undercarriage is a gaping maw full of what are essentially weed whackers—spinning, flexibly plastic spokes that smack the berries free without causing too much damage to the plant. Machine drives forward, plant gets beat up, berries pop out the other end.

The deluge of berries take a conveyor belt up to barrels carted alongside the harvester by a tractor. Each of those twelve barrels will weight 550 pounds when full. The whole operation takes only four people working in remarkable synchronicity.


It may not be as cool as a walnut vibrator, but if How It’s Made has taught us anything, it’s that single-purpose heavy machinery is cool as heck.

Senior reporter. Tech + labor /// Keybase: Securedrop: http://gmg7jl25ony5g7ws.onion/

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Seems like there’s significant berry loss... berries on the lower branches aren’t harvested and many berries seem to end up on the ground. Still, way better than hand-picking I guess.