Oct 31, 2022
Western Growers seeks info on harvest automation

Western Growers is asking for information from growers and agtech start-ups for the second year of data collection for the Global Harvest Automation Report.

The surveys will help the industry confront the ongoing threat from chronic labor shortages, according to Western Growers.

Western Growers’ Global Harvest Automation Initiative (GHAI) aims to automate half of the fresh produce harvest within 10 years through a series of projects involving growers, automation start-ups and key industry players.

To accomplish this, Western Growers needs the input from both growers and start-ups to help us establish data trends on the current impact of automation in the fresh produce industry. This data will be valuable in attracting additional innovation, talent and funding to the harvest automation space and will be compiled early next year into the second Global Harvest Automation Report, according to a Western Growers’ news release.

The initial report, prepared in collaboration with consultants at Roland Berger, found that:

  • 65% of participating growers have invested in automation over the past three years
  • The average annual spend on automation was $350,000-$400,000 per grower
  • Spending occurred in pre-harvest and harvest assist activities, including weeding, thinning, harvesting platforms and autonomous ground vehicles. It is anticipated that 30-60% of these activities will be automated by 2025.
  • Harvest automation itself remains limited because of the technical difficulties in replicating the human hand to harvest delicate crops. It is anticipated that 20% of harvest activities will be automated by 2025.

The inaugural Global Harvest Automation Report is available for download by clicking here.

For growers, use this survey

For start-ups, use this survey

The deadline to take the survey is Nov. 11. Survey responses will be confidential and data from the research will be reported only in the aggregate.

Contact Walt Duflock, Western Growers vice president of innovation, at [email protected] with any questions.

Photo: Participants in the FIRA-USA agricultural robotics conference in mid-October in Fresno, California, examine an automatic weeding machine from FarmWise. PHOTO: Chris Koger

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