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The WGCIT Agtech Blog

Agtech innovators. WGCIT stories.

Automation: A Solution to Ag Labor Woes

Posted on April 24, 2019 11:01 AM by WGCIT

The agriculture industry has been battling a labor shortage for over a decade. Over the past few years, the number of farmworkers who are migrating to the U.S. from Mexico has dropped, exacerbating this shortage. Supporting mechanization and automation is more important now than ever.

“Absent an immigration solution that provides U.S. farms with access to a legal, stable supply of foreign workers, farmers and ag-related businesses are looking into ways to support mechanization and automation to help solve their labor woes. If they don’t, there will be no such thing as local (or domestically-grown) fresh produce,” said Western growers President/CEO Tom Nassif in a blog post.  

Numerous Western Growers’ members have explored the world of automation, creating an innovative work environment and solving many of their labor woes. For many, supporting automation and mechanization has resulted in the creation of more high paying jobs, as mechanized labor requires a different set of skills in the field.

PlantTape is an automated transplanting system used to plant lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, onions, tomatoes, and cabbage. More efficient than other conventional transplanting methods, PlantTape is a fully-integrated system that does everything from sowing the tape to transplanting in the fields. Click here for more on PlantTape.

Fisher Ranch currently uses the Buncher Bot, a field-friendly machine capable of cutting multiple heads of broccoli at the same size and adding Fisher Ranch’s signature blue rubber band as a final touch. Click here for more on the Buncher Bot.

With the cost of labor increasing, Oasis Organics has also decided to look into automation and implement it on their farm. As an organic cauliflower grower, they now use a mechanical transplanter to plant twice as much produce than the traditional transplanter method. Click here for more on the automated transplanter.

Taylor Farms’ Automated Harvesting operates an Auto Romaine Waterjet Harvester that use a high-powered stream of water to cut lettuce. The machine helps workers has improved the working environment, attracted more people to these jobs, increased productivity rates and the farmworkers skill sets. Click here for more on the Automated Romaine Harvester.