What does it ‘feel’ like to be a blueberry from harvest to package?

The U.S. leads the world in blueberry production, and the Southeast is the country's top supplier and growing. But blueberry producers face many challenges when it comes to harvesting and handling the tiny, tender fruit.

To get a better idea of what blueberries endure as they tumble through a packing line, Charlie Li developed the Berry Impact Recording Device, or BIRD. An embedded electronic chip records all the bumps and bruises as the device rattles along with the berries.

Changying “Charlie” Li, an associate professor who specializes in sensor technology at the University of Georgia, is leading a four-year study designed to identify ways to improve the efficiency of the nation’s blueberry harvest. Last fall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded a $2.37 million grant to Li and his colleagues at 10 universities across the nation for the project.

Special thanks to Mike Wooten with the UGA College of Engineering for providing information for this gallery.

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