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Agriculture Machinery : Tomato Harvester Developed at University of California

Plant breeder Jack Hanna and engineer Coby Lorenzen, two scientists at the University of California has invented a machine that could mechanically harvest tomatoes. Nearly all of the tomatoes grown in the U.S. for tomato sauce, paste, ketchup, juice, and other processed foods are harvested by Hanna and Lorenzen’s once-scorned machine.

The invention of the tomato harvester was not just a technological advance. It was a genuine breakthrough in the way that scientists thought about agricultural development. In order to be successful, the plant scientist had to think first about the physical properties of the tomato as it passed through the machine, rather than thinking about it as a crop destined for markets and mouths.

The mechanized tomato harvester may have the way for both the industrialization of our food system and California’s local food revolution.