Multi-disciplinary teams evaluated mobile work platforms in Pennsylvania peach and apple orchards from 2006 to 2007 and in Washington State apple orchards from 2005 to 2006. Labor productivity on non-powered, powered, and semi-autonomous/self steering platforms was compared to work conducted on orchard ladders in fruit plantings trained to vertical and angled fruiting walls. In Pennsylvania trials, worker efficiencies on platforms compared to ladders increased an average range of 34% for peach pruning to 59% for peach harvest. In Washington State apple trials, average efficiencies gained ranged from 19% for green fruit apple thinning to 67% for trellis top string placement. Regardless of platform type, all measured tasks resulted in gained efficiencies and economic savings when compared to tasks completed using ladders.
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