Technology: Look Before Leaping

Ernie NeffTechnology

John Schueller

New technology can get growers excited about its potential benefits, says John Schueller, a University of Florida engineer and professor. “But before we go out and do something really big, we need to look at various aspects (of the technology),” he says. He suggests five questions growers should consider before going all in.

“One is, what are the effects of the technology throughout the system?” Schueller says. “Will it have an effect on something else in the system? … If it’s going to affect the system and have a widespread effect, you need to look at it and make sure that it won’t cause some sort of problem.”

The second question Schueller suggests considering is, “What are the effects on the overall sustainability (of the citrus operation)?” Growers should ask whether new methods or equipment might cause environmental problems or social issues with the grower’s staff or within the local community.

Schueller’s third question to ask is: “Are you sure the new technology is really going to make you money?” 

“The fourth thing is, can you tolerate local failures … strange things happening?” Schueller adds. “If (the new method or equipment) fails, or something else fails, will you have a fail-safe mode?” He suggests having a redundancy or backup system in place to allow operations to continue in case of failure.

“And finally,” Schueller says, “is the technology mature enough for adoption? … Is it developed enough for commercial operation?”

Schueller proposed the questions growers should ask at a “Risks in Technology Adoption” Citrus Farm Field Day May 16. The program was held at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Southwest Florida Research and Education Center in Immokalee.

Hear more from Schueller:

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large