Harvesting in the form of pole and hand picking, known as the traditional method of olive harvesting, is a very tiring, labor-intensive, time-consuming and high-cost application depending on worker wages. It is a method that has been applied for years to drop the fruits by hitting the branches of the olive tree with long sticks called pole. In this method, the tree and the shoots that will yield the following year are damaged, so that the olive does not produce one year (periodicity), while the olive yields one year. In applications called manual picking, workers who can reach olive branches with the help of stairs either collect the olives one by one, or tear off the olives on the branches with hand tools called combs. This method is a time consuming and tiring application.
While performing performance evaluation on harvesting machines;
1. The amount of crops the machine harvests per unit of time (business success),
2. The ratio of the grains harvested per tree to the total grain amount in the tree (harvest efficiency),
3. The amount of other material (non-grain material), such as leaves, sprouts, branches, which are shed or broken during the harvest,
4. Damage to product quality is considered.
During these evaluations, the maturity degree of the product and the structural features of the trees are also taken into consideration. As it is known, the branches, sprout breaks and leaf losses formed during the olive harvest reflect the harvest negatively on the product of the following year and sharpens the periodicity (Caran, 1994; Saraçoğlu, 2001). In addition, the non-grain material contained in the harvested product requires cleaning and a separate treatment before processing the product.
Pekitkan et al. (2011) used 3 different olive whiskers, 1 branch shaker and 1 body shaker in their studies, and they determined the performance values of Edremit varieties.
In the evaluation made by the researchers, considering the harvest performance of olive harvesting machines with different operating principles, the body harvesting type olive harvesting machine was found to be more successful than other harvesting machines in terms of business success. With this type of machine, the harvesting process can be carried out in the shortest time possible, regardless of the tree crown volume. However, as it does not come into direct contact with the fruits in terms of working principle, it lags behind other types of harvesting machines in terms of harvest efficiency. Trunk shaker harvesting machines can be preferred to complete the harvesting process as soon as possible. On the other hand, the fact that the olive trees in our country are on sloping lands is a factor that significantly limits the use of this type of machinery. The fact that the cost of trunk shakers is much higher than others is another factor that prevents them from becoming widespread.
Harvest performance values in branch shaker are closely related to the user’s experience. One of the biggest drawbacks in branch shakers is that careless and long-term use in the same branch causes damage to the branch (Qabatty and Alayunt 2010). Even if there is not much expectation about the harvesting efficiency since it does not directly contact with the fruit due to its working principle, the use of a hook system that at least the shaking body grasps the branch better can increase the work success of these types of machines and also prevent tree damage to some extent. On the other hand, Qabatty and Alayunt (2010) emphasized in their study that the loss of fruit quality in the harvest of tomato shaker and tomato olive was low and did not cause any loss in fruit quality-market value.
In beater, harvesting efficiency is higher than other machines as a result of direct contact of beater fingers with fruit during harvest. While it is a time consuming practice for the beaters to perform the harvesting process by walking around the entire tree, the number of fruits remaining in the tree is minimal. In addition, Qabatty and Alayunt (2010) stated that in the olive cultivation of table (domat), the value of tree and fruit loss increased compared to other types of harvesting machines and caused losses in fruit quality-market value. However, this type of machine is preferred for its ease of use and low cost compared to other types of machines.
In the selection of machinery, it will be appropriate to make choices considering the olive oil or table.
In general, in researches for measuring machine performance values, it is aimed to determine the machines that can only finish the work in a short time and cause the least damage to the tree and fruit. However, it is very important to reveal the risks that may threaten the health of farmers using these machines in the short or long term. It has been demonstrated by researches that hand-arm vibration syndrome occurs especially in people who are exposed to high levels of vibration over a certain working time in hand and back machines. Not only vibration, but also the weight and noise of the machine make working conditions difficult. In their research, Alayunt et al. (2008) measured vibration levels on branch shaker and beater type machines. During the operation with the branch shaker, skin deformation occurred in the right hand fingers, which the operator especially triggered within a short time (5 minutes). It is recommended that the operator works at short intervals when working with this type of machine. In addition, it is beneficial to choose machines with a system that dampens vibration. Generally, those who buy the machines pay attention to the harvest efficiency and prices of the machines and do not evaluate their ergonomic features.