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Economic Comparison of Selective and Non-Selective Mechanical Harvesting of Asparagus

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  053003,  2005 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.19053) @2005
Authors:   Tiziano Cembali, Raymond J. Folwell, Trent Ball, Carter D. Clary
Keywords:   Asparagus, mechanical harvesting, selective harvesting, non-selective harvesting, economic analysis, bioeconomic model

Manual labor is responsible for harvesting asparagus. To date a mechanical harvester has not been able to replace manual harvesting. This research compared selective and non-selective mechanical harvesters in terms of efficiency levels, profitability, and yield harvested. Limiting aspects of the mechanical harvesters were identified as: recovery of spears, damage to the existing spears, and damage to the harvested product. A bioeconomic model was used to determine the impact on profits and harvested yields by the two mechanical harvesters and their levels of profitability compared to manual harvesting. The bioeconomic model included functional relationships for: emergence, growth, length, diameter, weight, and carbohydrate consumption. The results showed that at the current efficiency levels for the selective mechanical harvester (80% of spear recovery rate, 5% of damage rate to the existing spears, and 5% of damage rate to the harvested spears) the profit generated by mechanical harvesting is $1,497/ha, lower than manual harvesting profit of $1,666/ha. The non-selective mechanical harvester results are suitable only when a market for processed product exists. The results showed that development of the selective mechanical harvester would produce a mechanical harvester that can provide higher profitability than manual harvesting.

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