Around the world, growers have always found innovative ways to work smarter. Although processes and inputs can be stretch to the limit to maximize profits, human labor cannot, and it is becoming a devastating problem.
The increasing worker shortage continues to make it difficult for farmers to get the job done on time and below cost. The COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated these issues, but the agricultural industry’s labor woes are not new. As a result, technology companies are developing novel robotics solutions that address agriculture’s labor shortage challenge. They include firms developing automated picking robots that that greatly reduce the need for human labor.
According to Abundant Robotics, the agricultural industry relies on large numbers of migrant workers to harvest fruit. However, the number of people interested in migrant agricultural labor has been shrinking for decades.
Abundant Robotics co-founder and CEO Dan Steere points out that the production of row crops became dramatically more productive with automation. Now, we expect to bring the same benefits to fruits and vegetables.
Dror Erez, CEO, Automato Robotics has stated that farmers need more efficient tools to address the ongoing agricultural labor shortage challenge, as well as pay workers a liveable wage in an industry where it is best to expect the unexpected. But the cost for automation solutions is also an issue.
Automato seeks address the international agricultural employment crisis by developing autonomous, efficient and affordable robots for every farmer. According to Automato Robotics representatives, the company’s Automato single tomato harvester is affordable for small- and medium-sized farmers, so they can reduce harvest costs by 50 percent in five years.”
Automato Robotics Single Tomato Harvester - Image: Automato Robotics
While many farmers hope technology will help address labor shortages, the solution is not simple as replacing humans with robots. Automato Robotics understands the complexity of the problem, as well as the barriers to implementing a viable worker replacement.