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  • Author or Editor: Tara Auxt Baugher x
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Advances in horticultural production technology are often hindered by slow grower adoption. Low adoption rates are largely the product of skepticism, which can lead to weaknesses in the commercialization process and affect future research and product development. To better understand industry concerns and design effective outreach methods, an information technology survey was designed as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Research Initiative project titled Comprehensive Automation for Specialty Crops (CASC). This study outlines the survey results from 111 participants at tree fruit meetings in the Pacific northwestern and eastern United States in 2009. Many of the misgivings about new automated technologies, such as equipment cost and reliability of harvest assist, sensor systems, and fully automated harvest machinery, were consistent across the country. Subtle differences appeared between the eastern U.S. and Pacific northwestern U.S. responses, including justifiable equipment price points and irrigation and pest concerns; these are likely attributable to regional differences in climate, operation size and scale, and marketing strategies. These survey data will help the project team better address grower concerns and uncertainty on a regional and national level, thereby improving adoption speed and rates after CASC-developed technologies are rolled out.

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