Western Growers Specialty Crop Automation Report Reveals Agtech Investments; Walt Duflock Comments
IRVINE, CA - Our industry is advancing quickly, and with that growth comes the need for increased capabilities. One way operators are achieving this is through implementing innovative agtech solutions. A Specialty Crop Automation Report commissioned by Western Growers (WG) revealed that growers are now spending an average of $500,000 a year on automation in response to the persistent ag labor shortage.
"This year’s report takes a deep dive into some new areas: The European market, Controlled Environment Agriculture, and the innovator's side of automation," said Walt Duflock, Vice President of Innovation. "We found progress from a fundraising and traction perspective in key areas like weeding, spraying, and harvest assist—and less progress in other key areas, notably harvest."
This is the second year the report has been released by WG in collaboration with consultants at Roland Berger. It tracks and measures industry progress in harvest automation across the fresh produce industry and is part of WG’s Global Harvest Automation Initiative, which aims to accelerate ag automation by 50 percent in 10 years.
According to a press release, the report's findings include:
- Around 70 percent of participating growers indicated they had invested in automation in 2022, with an average annual spend of $450,000-$500,000 per grower
- 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 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
- The time it takes to build automation solutions is getting shorter and the costs are getting smaller thanks to overall advances in robotics and non-agriculture fields that benefit agtech startups, as well as the increasing talent pool that agtech startups are able to add to their teams
The Specialty Crop Automation Report can be found here.
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