It’s no surprise that new technology has found its way into the produce industry. But what may be of surprise to most is the type of new technologies that are currently being tested and used in the United States and Europe.
Bryan Silbermann, CEO of the Produce Marketing Association, explains how new technology entering the farming world can change the future of the produce industry. He says that the technology will change the way the industry uses resources. According to Silbermann, the main changes that are being focused on are better use of water, land production and more mechanization of labor.
Silbermann cites “new seed varieties that grow vegetables that are more conducive to mechanical harvesting” as an example on how technology will directly impact resources. He also says that robotics, which are being used on the West Coast of the United States, are being tested to mechanically harvest berries.
Strawberries are currently very difficult to harvest because they are grown on the ground, which is labor intensive. But Silbermann says Europe is growing strawberries indoors in elevated beds approximately 3 feet off the ground, making for a much easier harvest in which fruit can be picked while walking rather than needing to bend over to pick it.
“There are people in this country who believe that in five to 10 years from now, that’s the way in which strawberries are going to be grown in this country — on raised beds,” says Silbermann, “That’s the kind of example of how this intersection of new technology, lack of labor and the need to use fewer resources are really going to intersect and create a different growing environment in the years to come.”
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