What is in this article?:
- Inventor delivers track-based celery harvester to market
- End of hump process
- The Eco Ag Harvester is an improved celery harvesting machine which can harvest, wash, bag, box, and load celery onto pallets.
- Inventor John Berry says celery never touches the ground during the harvest process which reduces the risk of E. coli contamination.
- The machine automates the harvesting process which can reduce worker injury.
- With the harvester, celery can move from the field to the store shelf in one to two days.
John Berry’s cell phone rings constantly which sounds like a skein of ducks flying overhead.
The phone ringer sound is a duck quack. On an early fall day in Berry’s office in Ventura, Calif., the repeated quacks sounded like a continuous V formation of ducks flying overhead.
Many of Berry’s phone calls are inquiries about the mechanical celery harvester the inventor brought to market in March of last year. Berry is an engineer and entrepreneur with 30-plus years experience in the farm equipment business.
Berry’s diesel-powered invention is the Eco Ag Harvester touted as the first steel track crawler-based mechanical celery harvester on the market. All surfaces which come into contact with the produce are manufactured with food quality stainless steel.
“I believe the Eco Ag Harvester will change how celery is harvested in the future,” Berry said.
The diesel-powered harvester allows workers to cut and pack 14 rows of celery at a time; enough to fill 3,000 to 4,000 cartons a day without the boxes ever touching the ground.
The steel track is important as it allows the harvest of celery even under wet and muddy conditions. The tracks reduce the deep ruts in the soil, often associated with tire-based harvesters operated in a wet environment.
“The Eco Ag Harvester means the celery harvest no longer has to come to an abrupt halt due to inclement weather,” Berry said. “This allows the celery harvest to continue 24-hours a day, seven days a week if needed.”
This ability, Berry adds, allows growers and custom harvesters to keep the harvest on track which improves harvest efficiency.
“The harvester cuts, cleans, and packs celery with less waste,” Berry added.
Where did Berry get his idea? He worked for the local Caterpillar dealer as a sales representative for years. Caterpillar is well known for its track-based farm machinery.
As a Caterpillar salesman, Berry inquisitively asked potential customers about their ideas on how farm equipment could be improved.
Berry jotted down pages of ideas and launched his business Eco Power Systems LLC 12 years ago to design the next generation of farm equipment.
His first invention was a modified Caterpillar 939C loader called the Eco Ag Loader complete with Caterpillar’s track system. Berry then set his focus on building the Eco Ag Harvester for the celery industry. The first harvester hit the market in March of last year.
Nine very curious celery growers showed up on the first day the machine harvested celery in the field, Berry says.
California is the largest celery producer in the U.S. More than half of the state’s crop is grown in Monterey County with Ventura County a close second.
The base sticker price for the Eco Ag Harvester is about $330,000. The harvester is manufactured in Ventura. An available $18,000 upgrade allows the machine to harvest only celery hearts at a time.
“The Eco Ag Harvester is all Caterpillar,” Berry explained. “We designed it with all Caterpillar components so replacement parts can be purchased off the shelf from one place – Caterpillar. It’s one-stop shopping for engine components, pumps, and other parts.”