Mechanization Potential for Expanding Midwestern Fruit and Vegetable Enterprises
William M. Edwards
Midwestern fruit and vegetable farmers face challenges in expanding their farms. Growing fruit and vegetables remains a labor intensive industry and most of the country's commercial production takes place on large scale farms in the Western United States. Mechanization may aid farmers in scaling up production by offsetting labor costs. This report uses a six-farm case study and a survey to examine the trends of both labor and machine use over different levels of production. Larger farms tended to use more labor and machinery but machinery seems to exhibit a degree of labor savings potential. The context of expansions impact the labor tradeoff potential of machinery. Some crops are more difficult to mechanize and expansions into dis- similar crops tended to reduce the machinery-labor tradeoff potential. A dynamic optimization model was constructed to simulate farm expansions to address issues of timeliness and crop mix context.