Tanimura & Antle's Rick Antle and Driscoll's Soren Bjorn See a Future in Agri-bots

Thu. April 23rd, 2015 - by Melissa De Leon Chavez

OXNARD, CA - Agri-bots have been a growing topic, which is why an interesting article by Agricultural Reporter Ilan Brat of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) caught my eye. 

Ilan Brat, Agriculture Reporter, Wall Street JournalTo read Ilan Brat's full article for yourself, click herewhere he reports that work hours and an increase in work opportunities in Mexico have melded together to create an opening for agri-bots.

Soren Bjorn, America’s Unit Head for Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc.“[With workers in short supply] the only way to get more out of the sunshine we have is to elevate the technology,” commented Soren Bjorn, America’s Unit Head for Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc., according to the WSJ report.

According to the report, Driscoll’s largest berry grower, Reiter Affiliated Companies LLC, is actually partly financing the development of the Agrobot, the 14-armed, automated harvester we previously reported on created by Juan Bravo. The current Agrobot reportedly costs about $100,000 with a new one in the works.

To see the Agrobot in action, watch the WSJ Live video below. 

Berries are not the only produce growers making the switch. Tanimura & Antle (T&A) Chief Executive Rick Antle told WSJ that the company bought Spanish startup Plant Tape, a system that can transplant vegetable seedlings from the greenhouse to the field by using strips of biodegradable material.

Rick Antle, Tanimura & Antle (T&A) Chief Executive“We don’t have the unlimited labor supply we once did,” Antle said, according to the report.

The strips are fed through a tractor-pulled planting device, and reportedly cut at least 10 to 15 percent of the overall work hours for growing romaine and celery for T&A.

The technology for agriculture appears to be growing as Ilan reports Bravo is working on a technological aid with 60 arms. Could the future human labor in agriculture soon be left to overseeing rather than picking? Perhaps. 

To read more from Ilan Brat's Wall Street Journal article, click here.

Tanimura & Antle