2014 New Call for Positions
2014 URS Call for Positions
This proposal has been formally submitted for the 2014 cycle.
094 Mechanization Engineering Specialist
Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, UC Davis
Proposed Area of Coverage
California - statewide
- Mechanization Engineering Specialist (docx), uploaded 05/14/2014 by Mary Delany
As the California in field agriculture labor force continues to decline in number, increase in age and become more costly, it's clear that automation alternatives need to be explored. The hiring of a Mechanization Engineering Extension Specialist who is willinging and able to engage with California agriculture and assist in crafting automation solutions addressing farming issues would be a great asset to the California speciality crop industry.
I am the Executive Director of the CA Specialty Crops Council. Our members include the following commodity groups: CA Cherry Advisory Board, CA Cling Peach Advisory Board, CA Dried Plum Board, CA Dry Bean Advisory Board, CA Fresh Carrot Advisory Board, CA Garlic and Onion Research Advisory Board, CA Leafy Greens Research Program, CA Melon Research Board,CA Pear Advisory Board, CA Pepper Commission. Our members also include the CA State Beekeepers Association and Chiquita Brands/Fresh Express, International. We very strongly support the hiring of a Mechanization Engineering Extension Specialist. Many of our commodities are still very reliant on hand labor in the production of their crops. But as minimum wages increase and the availablity of labor decreases it will be more important in the future to have new alternatives from the ag engineers. Previous people in these positions, such as Dr. James Thompson at UCD, contributed greatly to the progress that has been made for many commodities as they became more mechanized in their production. In summary, we again, would voice our support for the hiring of a Mechanization Engineering Extension Specialist.
I am the VP of Research and Education at the California Strawberry Commission(CSC). The CSC represents all the growers, shippers and processors of strawberry in California. Our industry has seen a growing need for mechanization in the industry. Our industry is heavily dependent on harvest workers sine most fields are harvested twice weekly for 6 to 9 months a year. We have been investing heavily in mechanization solutions to help us with our dependence on shrinking labor pool that is becoming increasingly expensive. The CSC is currently funding two mechanization projects and has funded a number of similar projects in the past. Most of this work has been conducted outside of the UC system due to a lack of expertise and availability of specialists in this field. The CSC strongly supports the UC hiring a mechanization engineering specialist and feels that this will provide critical support for an important need in our industry.
As a member of the labor intensive work of the specialty crop industry I recommend the UC system to consider a mechanization specialist position. The pressures to improve productivity and reduce labor demands have reached an inflection point in the ag industry. The problem has moved from reducing unit cost to finding methods to get the crops out of the field. Shortages of labor have negative impacts on California Tax revenues, community earnings, food prices and labor stability. In addition, California specialty ag has a shortage of engaged engineering professionals solving our problems compared to mind-share focused on regulation and row crop agriculture. This position would fulfill one of the core missions of the university and have a significant positive impact on the sustainability of the California Ag economy, University system, and national food security.
Agricultural engineering is an important part of producing and marketing commodities in California. Fruit thinning, mechanical harvesting, mechanical pruning, spray applications, processing and storage are just some of the important areas engineering impacts. With the advancements of agricultural production engineering has to help us evolve as well. This position is core to agricultural production system. I encourage you to fill this position.
We have been dependent on hand labor to manage weeds and prop up inadequate herbicide systems for decades. We are beginning to see weed management programs in vegetable crops suffer from labor shortages. UC needs to heavily invest in robotics for harvesting, weed control, and many other aspects of specialty crop production.
This is a must fill opportunity and actually probably one that needs a herd of engineers not just one. The labor crisis is very very real to those of us on the front lines of production. The liberal nature of our elected officials seems to forget that we are part of an world economy and must compete or the jobs will go away. In order for production to stay domestic given the reality of the here and now advanced mechanization opportunities must be implemented ASAP.
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