An Integrated Approach to Address the Labor Shortage on Mushroom Farms through Smart Agriculture


Sponsoring Agency
USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture


The United States produces more than 938 million pounds of mushrooms annually valued at $1.2 billion, with Pennsylvania producing 66% of the total US mushroom crop (USDA NASS, 2020). Mushroom production is a very labor-intensive process. The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and Sexsmith (2019) studies report a critical shortage of farm labor in Pennsylvania, and the US mushroom farms are short by 20% of the number of workers needed on their farms to complete required tasks, thereby limiting the crop yield and economic outcomes. This project will address the labor shortage in three ways: (1) develop automated fresh mushroom harvesting and packaging technologies through smart agriculture; (2) modify crop management techniques to optimize harvesting rates of manual laborers and mechanized systems; and (3) provide advanced technologies to industry stakeholders for labor efficient production and the economic well-being of rural communities.