Chapter 25: A shrinking role for hands


In the world of mechanical citrus harvesting, where agribusiness meets science fiction, there are trunk shakers and canopy shakers. Trunk shakers live up to their name. A machine with a mechanical arm simply grabs the base of an orange tree, jostles fruit loose into a ground-level catch system, then moves on to the next tree. Canopy shakers, though, take harvesting to another level. These machines work in pairs — pairs that cost $1 million. In a diesel-powered parade, they roll down both sides of a row of trees. Each carries vertical agitators that look like round hair brushes. The steel bristles on those brushes reach into the canopy of an orange tree and shake branches back and forth.

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