The drive toward automation from planting to harvest is underway in the specialty crop industry, writes Frank Giles on GrowingProduce.com. Growers are taking matters into their own hands developing and commercializing new technology in response to a dwindling labor supply. One of those farms is California-based Tanimura & Antle (T&A), one of the largest leafy green growers in the country.
To further the company’s technical capabilities, they began investigating a Spain-based firm’s solution called PlantTape. Impressed with the technology and its potential to reduce labor and other benefits, T&A bought the company in 2014. Brian Antle serves as the company’s President and says, heading into its second season of commercial availability, PlantTape has been put through the paces and is ready for prime time.
Some of the benefits the technology offers include: it is faster than traditional transplanting; it holds more plants per tray than conventional trays; there is an 80% labor reduction; and it requires 97% less peat. Several Florida farms are running trials with the technology this season as word spreads about its efficiency.