Furthermore, workers in greenhouses are employed in a much more comfortable and hospitable environment than field workers and as such the pressure to mechanize is less intense. Looking to the future, harvesting techniques will continue to attract substantial interest and investment in determining if the state-of-the-art technologies (machine vision, robotics, software engineering, GPS and GIS) can be successfully applied to harvesting machines particularly in relation to selective harvesting and the harvesting of delicate produce for the fresh market.
The equipment used for the post-harvest treatment and preservation of durable and perishable produce includes cleaners, sorters and graders, fans (for fresh air ventilation and fumigation), dryers, refrigeration, controlled atmosphere equipment, conveyors, and handling, packaging and labeling equipment (see also, Equipment for Post-harvest Preservation and Treatment of Produce).
For these reasons (environmental enhancement, sustainability) intensive research and development in renewable fuels (including oilseed oils and alcohols) continues and has lead to a small number of commercial applications in niche markets. The future market for renewable fuel use is difficult to predict but will remain an active issue in the continuing debate on alternative fuels for vehicles including agricultural vehicles. Finally, the use of on-farm generated electricity, as opposed to that purchased from a utility, is discussed below (see also, Agriculture and Autonomous Power Supply).The overall sequence of operations (Figure 8) is orientated towards protecting post-harvest product quality and minimizing loss due to deterioration occasioned by respiration, microbial activity, insects or rodents. Control of respiration (i.e. conversion of carbohydrates to carbon dioxide and water) in crop products is achieved by temperature reduction, most usually by refrigeration but also by periodic ventilation typically of the cold night air.Local autonomous power supply systems are generally limited to stationary applications which, although of vital importance to farm mechanization, still represent a considerably smaller fraction of total energy than that used in mobile mechanization systems powered by tractors and other engine-driven vehicular equipment.
While much remains to be done on small farms in the poorest regions, sufficient progress has been made to accelerate food production in line with population growth (contrary to the Malthusian prediction). In this theme, farm machinery is considered with primary emphasis on engine and motor driven machines and implements and a lesser emphasis on human or animal powered equipment.