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Comparative study of mechanical harvesting costs for different planting models in San Juan, Argentina

Novello, R., Bueno, L. A., Andrieu, J., Miranda, O.
Acta horticulturae 2014 no.1057 pp. 453-456
business enterprises, capital, fuels, growers, harvesters, industry, labor, leasing, mechanical harvesting, models, olives, planting, purchasing, surface area, trees, wages and remuneration, Argentina
Due to the increase of the labour relative-costs evidenced in the last five years, important changes were promoted in modern Argentinean olive industry in order to carry out capital intensive practices, among them the most important is mechanical harvesting. In this context, enterprises that offer mechanical harvesting services for different olive planting models began to come up, placing olive growers in front of two alternatives: to rent or to purchase the harvesting machines. The objective of this study was to obtain the olive harvesting costs under both situations and find the minimal surface area that make convenient to purchase the harvesting machines. Four olive growing systems were considered: intensive (330 trees/ha), intensive medium density (555 trees/ha), intensive high density (714 trees/ha) and super-high-density (1,667 trees/ha). Different harvesters were considered for each one of them. In first place, the olive harvesting costs were calculated for olive growers with either own harvesters or renting the harvesting service, taking into account labour costs, fuel, maintenance and harvesters rent value. Then, by a dynamical analysis to 15 years and for 10,000 kg/ha, both costs were compared, and by use of the NPV, the minimal surface area that makes it convenient to purchase the mechanical harvester was found for each situation. The results showed that harvesting costs per kg were: US$ 0.08 and 0.04 for the intensive system; US$ 0.10 and 0.04 for intensive medium density; US$ 0.09 and 0.03 for intensive high density and, US$ 0.07 and 0.02 for super-high-density either renting the harvesting service or using own mechanical harvester respectively. Finally, the minimal surface area that makes it convenient to purchase the mechanical harvester was 65 ha for the intensive system, 200 ha for intensive medium density, 165 ha for intensive high density and 230 ha for super-high density system.