Growers now spend an average of $500,000 a year on automation in response to the persistent ag labor shortage.
Western Growers discovered the data in its Specialty Crop Automation Report. The report, which tracks and measures industry progress in harvest automation across the fresh produce industry, is part of the Western Growers Global Harvest Automation Initiative, which aims to accelerate ag automation by 50 percent in ten years. Most progress was made in the weeding and harvest assist segments; market-ready solutions are able to meet grower economic targets and alleviate key challenges, such as lack of labor availability.
Growers reported ROIs for weeding solutions of less than one to two years, depending on the type of crop and technology used. Growers want more trained agtech personnel, with 50 percent indicating that they had internal employees who dedicated the majority of their time to the integration of automation investments.