Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Business

July 16, 2013

Robotics seen as an answer to labor woes on the farm

SALINAS, Calif. — On a windy morning in California’s Salinas Valley, a tractor pulled a wheeled, metal contraption over rows of budding iceberg lettuce plants. Engineers from Silicon Valley tinkered with the software on a laptop to ensure the machine was eliminating the right leafy buds.

The engineers were testing the Lettuce Bot, a machine that can “thin” a field of lettuce in the time it takes about 20 workers to do the job by hand.

The thinner is part of a new generation of machines that target the last frontier of agricultural mechanization — fruits and vegetables destined for the fresh market, not processing, which have thus far resisted mechanization because they’re sensitive to bruising.

Researchers are now designing robots for these most delicate crops by integrating advanced sensors, powerful computing, electronics, computer vision, robotic hardware and algorithms, as well as networking and high precision GPS localization technologies. Most ag robots won’t be commercially available for at least a few years.

In this region known as America’s Salad Bowl, where for a century fruits and vegetables have been planted, thinned and harvested by an army of migrant workers, the machines could prove revolutionary.

Farmers say farm robots could provide relief from recent labor shortages, lessen the unknowns of immigration reform, even reduce costs, increase quality and yield a more consistent product.

“There aren’t enough workers to take the available jobs, so the robots can come and alleviate some of that problem,” said Ron Yokota, a farming operations manager at Tanimura & Antle, the Salinas-based fresh produce company that owns the field where the Lettuce Bot was being tested.

Many sectors in U.S. agriculture have relied on machines for decades and even the harvesting of fruits and vegetables meant for processing has slowly been mechanized. But nationwide, the vast majority of fresh-market fruit is still harvested by hand.

Text Only
Business
  • Tribal ag program brings farm to casino

    The Quapaw Tribe has started an agriculture program that is supplying locally grown products for its casino restaurant.

    May 12, 2014

  • Charities helping residents after wildfire

    Local charities are on the scene to help Logan County residents sift through the ashes after wildfires swept through the rural area near Guthrie.

    May 8, 2014

  • ALDI Norman store opens ALDI opens Norman store on West Main Street

    A light rain didn’t deter dozens of shoppers who showed up to help open the ALDI store at 2440 W. Main Street in Norman early Thursday.

    May 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lebanese Festival planned for two days

    Food, music, dance, culture and traditional home-cooked Lebanese food once again comes together in Norman in the form of Middle Eastern hospitality.

    April 24, 2014

  • Senators accuse GM of covering up defective switch

     Members of a Senate subcommittee accused General Motors of trying to cover up problems with an ignition switch that is now tied to 13 deaths, and pressed CEO Mary Barra to commit to punishing anyone involved.

    April 2, 2014

  • Bethesda 1 University of Okla. students paint murals, brighten up nonprofit

    The harsh, cold, metal door slipped away as green, then blue, turned into a lush, green field with a winding path and a group of University of Oklahoma undergraduate students painted murals Monday at Bethesda Inc., a local agency that specializes in sexual abuse treatment and prevention for children and adolescents.

    March 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Fly-tying Frenzy at Sam Noble Museum

    The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History will offer Fly-Tying Frenzy, an adult fly-tying workshop, from 8 to 11 a.m. for beginners and from 1 to 4 p.m. for intermediate and advanced participants April 5.

    March 12, 2014

  • JC_GE BUILDING.jpg Industry giants represented at Oak Tree

    Two corporate leaders discussed their company’s respective impact of business expansion on the local economy Thursday at the Edmond Chamber of Commerce Membership Luncheon.

    February 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • Cherokee Nation raising minimum rage

    The Cherokee Nation, one of the largest Native American tribes in the country, is raising its minimum wage by 50 cents, Chief Bill John Baker announced Monday.

    February 25, 2014

  • Moore City Council denies zoning change request

    Residents protesting a requested zoning change to allow apartments to be built in an area devastated by the May 20 tornado filled Moore City Hall on Tuesday night, then applauded when the Moore City Council denied the zoning change request unanimously.

    February 19, 2014

Business Marquee

e-Edition
  • How You Want It When You Want It Today's Pauls Valley Democrat

    Now you can view and download the Democrat right to your desktop on the day the paper is published. Click here to get more information on the Democrat's e-Edition.

     

    CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE E-EDITION SITE

     

    ATTENTION CURRENT DEMOCRAT SUBSCRIBERS TO START an e-EDITION

    e-mail request to sjohnson@pvdemocrat.com

    April 20, 2011 1 Photo 1 Link

AP Video
Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Raw: Lawmakers Scuffle in Ukraine's Parliament The Rock Finds His Inner 'Hercules' Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques ShowBiz Minute: Hoffman, Oberst, Box Office WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong
Stocks
Facebook