While the world is still wondering if President Trump is really going to build the wall between the US and Mexico technology offers a solution after the flow of immigrant workers, welcome helpers in America’s farmland will dry out: Will robots replace mexicans? As we have seen in other countries progress is only made in coutries who have serious labor problems – like Australia. “The machine shows up to work every day,” said Goehring, 52, a fourth-generation farmer who started mechanizing in 2008. “The government is de-incentivizing ourselves from having labor,” said Goehring, a one-time Republican congressional candidate who said he voted for Trump for his pro-business views. Machinery manufacturers are likely to keep focusing on reducing costs for robotics and automation, according to a report from Boston-based Lux Research Inc., written by Sara Olson and Laura Lee. For example, Case IH, the agricultural-machinery unit of CNH Industrial NV, last year unveiled a concept for an autonomous tractor. While the slow march of mechanization is hardly new in the U.S. — where John Deere’s steel plow revolutionized Midwest farming almost two centuries ago and helped give birth to a global agricultural powerhouse — many innovations have been tied to stricter immigration policies. Mechanical tomato-pickers began showing up in California in the late 1960s, after the end of a program that allowed temporary Mexican harvest workers into the U.S. In American dairies, which operate year-round and struggle to find workers under the government’s six-month H-2A farmworker visas, farmers have been shifting to robots that do everything from milking to feeding to cleaning the cows.
Most fruit crops are too delicate for robot’s hands
Even with all the technological advances, there are many crops that still require human hands, at least for now, said Wallace Huffman, an agricultural economist with Iowa State University in Ames. Machines typically work better for foods grown for processing rather than those sold in grocery stories, because many consumers demand an unblemished appearance, he said. “The soft fruits, the berries, the strawberries and blueberries are very delicate,” Huffman said. “They can easily be bruised and smashed, even by hand. Trying to move to mechanical picking is difficult.” Still, with new devices being developed and Trump’s push to limit illegal immigration, the industry is accelerating its shift to automation. “Labor shortages are the main driver of the economics of what we’re doing,” said Charles Grinnell, the chief executive officer of Harvest Automation Inc. in Billerica, Massachusetts, which produces robots for $32,000 apiece designed to harvest plants in greenhouses. “It’s hard to know if it’s the election of Trump or something else. But there really is a sense from our customers that, ‘Hey, let’s get this done.’ ”