Technology: Consider the Costs

Ernie NeffTechnology

Tara Wade

Tara Wade, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences economist, has some advice for growers considering new technology for the grove. “What we’d like growers to do is start to think about all the costs involved … do the math before they invest,” she says.

“Growers have to constantly think about the trade-offs” of adopting new technology versus continuing with current practices, Wade says.

She points out that technology will require hiring skilled workers who earn more than growers are accustomed to paying unskilled workers. “That may cost you a lot more,” she says. “But this labor may be required for you to get the full benefit of the technology.”

“Depreciation costs can be significant,” she adds, saying about 7 percent of Florida growers’ operating costs can be attributed to depreciation costs.

Growers should also consider the cost of the new equipment as well as opportunity costs. Wade explains that an opportunity cost is “the cost of the opportunity you have foregone,” or the other things you could have spent the money on.

“There is the cost of, say, the owner’s time, learning how to use this new equipment,” Wade adds. “There are other things that could have been done with his time.”

Wade discussed the topic of technology costs at a “Risks in Technology Adoption” Citrus Farm Field Day May 16 at the Southwest Research and Education Center in Immokalee, Florida.

Hear more from Wade:

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Ernie Neff

Ernie Neff

Senior Correspondent at Large