Tasmanian orchards in need of fruit pickers turn to mechanization

Apple picking in Tasmania has typically been back-breaking work, but new conveyor belt technology is designed to take the pain out of it. Huon Valley apple picker Arisa Yoshida says it certainly has made her life easier. Ms Yoshida is working for Huon Valley organic apple grower Andrew Smith.

When the pandemic hit and borders closed, Smith did not have enough pickers, so he ordered two of the spider-like apple-picking platforms. "It's not brand-new technology, it's been around for a while, but it's certainly accelerated globally now," he said. Set up with six conveyor belts and two movable platforms, the machines can travel up and down the rows with six pickers picking at different heights.

Image: Abc.net.au

"There's no real necessity for high-strength individuals to do this job anymore," Smith added. "I'm particularly excited about opening up the opportunity for a wider workforce that would be 50 or 60 to 40 [per cent] female versus male in what is a predominantly male-dominated workforce."

Andrew Smith has since ordered two more machines, but global demand for the machinery has pushed the waiting time out by six months.

Source: abc.net.au

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