Interesting LA Times article reports on robotic developments in California’s cutting edge ag production.
A heavy reliance on once plentiful low-paid farm workers – now aging and disappearing at a rapid clip – is of necessity undergoing transformation to a future of robotic applications of tasks ranging from planting to thinning, weeding and harvesting.
While agriculture has been trying to reduce labor for centuries, the extreme capital intensive nature of this robotic revolution seems destined to promote further ag consolidation and to become a massive competitive challenge for family-scale farms. Jim
“Now, the $47-billion agriculture industry is trying to bring technological innovation up to warp speed before it runs out of low-wage immigrant workers.
“California will have to remake its fields like it did its factories, with more machines and better-educated workers to labor beside them, or risk losing entire crops, economists say.
“‘California agriculture just isn’t going to look the same,’ said Ed Taylor, a UC Davis rural economist. ‘You’re going to be hard-pressed to find crops grown as labor-intensively as they are now'”…
“That’s because immigrant farmworkers in California’s agricultural heartlands are getting older and not being replaced. After decades of crackdowns, the net flow across the U.S.-Mexico border reversed in 2005, a trend that accelerated through 2014, according to a Pew Research Center study. And native-born Americans aren’t interested in the job, even at wages that have soared at higher than average rates.”