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Benedict C. Posadas, Patricia R. Knight, Randal Y. Coker, Christine H. Coker, Scott A. Langlois and Glenn Fain

survey of nursery and greenhouse automation and mechanization was conducted in the northern Gulf of Mexico region as a part of a research program undertaken by the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and the U.S. Department of Labor

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K.C. Ting

Availability and capability of labor have become dominating factors affecting agriculture's productivity and sustainability. Agricultural mechanization can substitute for human and animal physical power and improve operational uniformity. Automation complements mechanization by implementing the capabilities of automatic perception, reasoning, communication, and task planning. Fixed automation is traditionally cost-effective for mass production of standard items. In addition, flexible automation responds to make-to-order batch processing. The appropriateness of each automation type depends on the situation at hand. Because of their vast memory and high calculation speed, computers are highly effective for rapid information processing. Incorporating state-of-the-art hardware and software, computers can generate status reports, provide decision support, gather sensor signals, and/or instruct machines to perform physical work. It is no surprise, therefore, that computerization is essential to the evolutionary process, from mechanization through fixed automation to flexible automation. Fundamentals of agricultural mechanization, automation, and computerization applied to greenhouse production are discussed. Recent research activities conducted at Rutgers Univ. are presented for illustrative purposes.

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Katie Ellis, Tara Auxt Baugher and Karen Lewis

to the implementation of technology by early adopters. In the agricultural sector, it can take as long as 15 years before full adoption by stakeholders occurs ( Alston et al., 1995 ). In the realm of automation and precision agriculture, many

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Benedict Posadas

operation can provide mechanical power, speed, repetition, safety, and a greater potential for consistency and quality control. Mechanization is normally defined as the replacement of a human task with a machine ( Giacomelli, 2002 ). Automation includes

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Shannon Caplan, Bryan Tilt, Gwen Hoheisel and Tara A. Baugher

There is a need for increased automation in specialty crop production in the United States, especially in response to increasing labor costs and the potential for labor shortages. Technological innovations are being developed to address such

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Ward Simonton

The commercial greenhouse operation, with a controlled and structured environment and a large number of highly repetitive tasks, offers many advantages for automation relative to other segments of agriculture. Benefits and incentives to automate are significant and include improving the safety of the work force and the environment, along with ensuring sufficient productivity to compete in today's global market. The use of equipment and computers to assist production also may be particularly important in areas where labor costs and/or availability are a concern. However, automation for greenhouse systems faces very significant challenges in overcoming nonuniformity, cultural practice, and economic problems. As a case study, a robotic workcell for processing geranium cuttings for propagation has been developed. The robot grasps randomly positioned cuttings from a conveyor, performs leaf removal, trims the stems, and inserts the cuttings into plug trays. While the system has been shown to process effectively many plants automatically, the robot is not equipped to handle successfully the wide variety of cuttings that a trained worker handles with aplomb. A key challenge in greenhouse automation will be to develop productive systems that can perform in a reliable and cost-effective way with highly variable biological products.

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Chieri Kubota, Michael A. McClure, Nancy Kokalis-Burelle, Michael G. Bausher and Erin N. Rosskopf

information should be collected for different graft combinations. The introduction of mechanization and automation technology will also help address large-scale production issues. Efficient labor management has been recognized as a key to success in mass

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Laurence Gendron, Guillaume Létourneau, Julien Cormier, Claire Depardieu, Carole Boily, Raymond Levallois and Jean Caron

irrigation automation (Province of Quebec, Canada) of a 4-ha (9.9 acres) production surface, considering that a set of one electronic diesel pump, one automated system and one control panel is required. For each component, the total cost is first reported

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Jeff B. Million and T.H. Yeager

including estimated ET, CF, irrigation rate, and weather data. Historical zone output can also be viewed for a user-selected period. Output can be viewed on a computer or mobile device or exported in a comma-delimited (*.csv) file for automation. For

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Rhuanito Soranz Ferrarezi, Marc W. van Iersel and Roberto Testezlaf

set values and thereby minimize water use and reduce nutrient leaching ( Bayer et al., 2013 ; Nemali and van Iersel, 2006 ). Sensor-based automation could also allow growers to have better control over subirrigation. Soil moisture sensors allow real