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07.07.2014

Overcoming Specialty Crop Challenges with Vehicle Robotics

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Related topics: Farming · Forge™
ASI's Forge completes robotic mowing tasks in a California vineyardASI's Forge robotic platform completes robotic mowing tasks in a California vineyard. Robotic farming technologies help specialty crop growers deal with challenges such as labor and safety.

It's amazing to think that the food on your table today was growing somewhere else in the world just few weeks or even days ago. This is certainly the case for fresh fruits and vegetables that farmers often hand-harvest to prevent bruising and leverage local distribution networks to prevent spoilage.

Specialty crops... create an entirely new set of challenges for farmers.

Despite the challenges, according to the USDA's Economic Research Service fruits and nuts account for around 13% of US crop receipts, equating to a staggering $18 billion annually.



Fruits, nuts, and vegetables are part of a produce group called "specialty crops," defined by the Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act of 2004 as "fruits and tree nets, vegetables, culinary herbs and spices, medical plants, as well as nursery, floriculture, and horticulture crops."

Legally, specialty crops are separate from other commodity crops like grains and soybeans by a difference in government subsidies, but they also require many "special" considerations such as land, climate, farming techniques, labor, and marketing agreements that create an entirely new set of challenges for farmers.