University of California

Harvest mechanization helps agriculture remain competitive


James F. Thompson
Steven C. Blank

Authors Affiliations

J.F. Thompson is Agricultural Engineer, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering; S.C. Blank is Agricultural Economist, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Davis.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 54(3):51-56. DOI:10.3733/ca.v054n03p51. May 2000.

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California farmers have remained competitive in the global marketplace by using technology to reduce their costs and to expand production. Case studies of rice and processing tomatoes show that harvest mechanization has reduced labor use by 92% to 97% and has also reduced labor costs, down from half to two-thirds of total costs to less than 20%. Mechanization is at least partly responsible for the steady increase in production of these two crops. Although mechanization has reduced the number of labor hours for harvesting, overall employment for rice and processing tomatoes has risen due to increased production, and so have harvester operator wages. Further advances in tomato harvest technology will continue to reduce labor needs, while the rice industry will experience moderate changes.


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Thompson J, Blank S. 2000. Harvest mechanization helps agriculture remain competitive. Hilgardia 54(3):51-56. DOI:10.3733/ca.v054n03p51
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