This summer marks 2 years since a massive new worker rumbled onto the field to harvest celery for Taylor Farms – a marvel of mechanical technology called the Automated Celery Harvester.
After a few modifications since 2014, the harvester now cuts 13,000 pounds of celery per hour and drops the product into trailers for transport to processing at its very freshest. By comparison, it used to take 20 workers an hour to harvest that many pounds by hand.
“Two of the primary reasons we developed the machine is that hand-harvesting celery is very difficult and hand crews also lay the product on the ground after its been cut, which is a food safety problem,” said Dave Offerdahl, Taylor Farms’ Director of Ag Engineering, Harvest Automation.
As the harvester moves through the celery field, the stalks are cut by hardened stainless steel blades that are adjusted automatically by a sensor that follows the contour of the ground. An operator in the enclosed cab does the fine tuning, Offerdahl said. A single machine handles all the company’s present celery harvesting needs.
Offerdahl said it took about a year to develop the harvester and since launch, modifications have been made to the blades, the ground sensor wheel, and how the crew handles the product on the trailer after harvest .
“Our investment in automated harvesting not only decreases our harvest costs, but also lays the foundation of the future for the industry,” said Offerdahl.
See Taylor Farms’ Automated Celery Harvester in action: