A company continues to test its automated lettuce transplanting system on the Central Coast. The Plant Tape system takes a lot of labor out of the transplanting process and company representatives say the process also increases yields.
Plant Tape USA is a transplanting process being tested in lettuce production. A semi-automated machine and a greenhouse-grown plant plug, encased a few inches apart on a tape line, make up the system. Plant Tape USA President Scott Grabau said longtime growing, packing and shipping company Tanimura and Antle bought the company a few years ago.
The system was being researched and tested overseas for some time and Grabau said his company viewed it as a possible answer to a laborious transplanting process. Plant tape has been on display the last two years at the Forbes AgTech Summit in Salinas, showing how fast it can plant lettuce.
Garbau said the company originally looked at the system as a labor-saver, but it didn’t expect the increase in yields the company is experiencing. He says the system allows more turns in a season, increasing the company’s product. Tanimura and Antle have planted over 8,000 acres of lettuce with the machine and continue to test and research the system. Grabau said the intent is to share it with the rest of the agriculture industry, but the company wants to work out all of the bugs first.
Although it isn’t publicly available yet, Grabau said the company had several inquiries about the system working for different crops including onions, leaks, melons, peppers and sugar beets.
Hear Grabau’s full interview below.