HMC Farms: ag tech is about making jobs better

28-04-2023 | |
Fruitpicking robots at HMC Farms, Kingsburg, California. Still from video of Tevel.
Fruitpicking robots at HMC Farms, Kingsburg, California. Still from video of Tevel.

“Ag tech is not about taking jobs away; it’s about making jobs better, and often safer, for employees”, according to Drew Ketelsen, vice president and farm manager of HMC Farms (Kingsburg, California) in andnowuknow.com. Ketelsen sees the dilemma of ag tech: how do we advance without compromising our people?

Recent ag tech innovations of HMC Farms include vineyard pre-pruners, electric pruning shears for stonefruit trees, motorized platforms for picking stonefruit, Burro® autonomous carts in the vineyards, PAGO® ag payment system, optical grading and sorting machines in packing houses, and field moisture probes.

HMC Farms will also incorporate flying autonomous robots using technology created by Tevel Aerobotics. And while it sounds intimidating at first, in actuality, the robots are incredibly beneficial to workers when it is too hot to pick outside or a field needs to be harvested at night. The robots are able to select ripe pieces of stone fruit from any part of the tree, pick them, and place them in a bin.

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Better jobs for employees

“Less labor continues to be available, and increased costs have impacted every aspect of our operations,” Ketelsen says. “In order to ensure that we are able to continue farming and providing both food and jobs for generations to come, we must use technology to create more efficient and effective ways of operating our business, which in turn creates better jobs for our employees and affordable fresh fruit for consumers.”

As some in the industry worry that jobs could be taken away with the development of ag tech, HMC Farms believes that instead, innovation breeds new job opportunities and breathes fresh life into the industry.

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Ed Asscheman Online editor Future Farming
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