Exploring Future Opportunities For Automation In Horticulture

A research survey that will establish the current level of use of automation and robotics in horticulture and identify where future investment in technologies could be made to help address concerns about labour availability and costs, has been announced by AHDB Horticulture.

Labour accounts for up to 70% of variable production costs in some areas of horticulture. With the National Living Wage driving up labour costs and the uncertainty of the future availability of migrant workers after Brexit, identifying technologies that can help reduce labour costs and pressures for businesses will become more critical.

A wide-ranging survey has been sent to growers from a full range of horticulture crops and selected businesses will be contacted for in-depth studies.

Debbie Wilson, knowledge exchange manager at AHDB, said: “We recognise the significance of labour costs for horticultural businesses and therefore the importance of doing things that help growers reduce them.

“Fundamental to getting these activities right is having the full picture of what the current position is in our industry which is what this survey is designed to do and we hope that growers will be willing to spare some time to respond.”

Steve Tones, horticulture strategy director at AHDB, said: “Addressing the increasing cost and decreasing availability of labour is one of the top three priorities of our strategy, and a key issue for most growers.

“We recently launched a programme to bring lean principles into all sectors of horticulture, which offers immediate improvements in business productivity. The robotics and automation survey will provide us with the information we need to shape our future activity to meet the longer-term needs of the horticulture industry for alternatives to human labour.”

 

Get Our E-Newsletter - breaking news to your in-box twice a week
Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy
Share.

About The Author

Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.