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Harvesting Ground Level Crops: A Biomechanical Assessment and Ergonomic Intervention
2003 ASAE Annual International Meeting (2003)
  • Gary A. Mirka, North Carolina State University
  • Gwanseob Shin, North Carolina State University
  • Yu Shu, North Carolina State University
  • Zheng Li, North Carolina State University
  • Zongliang Jiang, North Carolina State University
  • Theresa Costello, North Carolina State University
Observation of standard work practices for the harvesting of small ground crops such as sweet potatoes and cucumbers reveal long-term static, full flexion of the torso. The implications of these postures of the torso in relation to fatigue and spinal stability are being more closely considered in the biomechanics literature. Specifically, there are concerns with regard to the changes in the properties of the viscoelastic structures that support the spinal column (longitudinal ligaments, interspinous ligaments and the intervertebral discs. The focus of the current project was in the biomechanical assessment of these work postures as well as some preliminary work in the development of ergonomic interventions aimed at reducing these loads. The results of the biomechanical assessment component of these work postures showed interesting inter-relationships between back angle and knee angle under loaded conditions wherein the knee angle had little effect on the back muscle activation levels in more upright postures but had a significant impact on these activation levels when the subject assumed the fully flexed postures. These results led to the development of two ergonomic interventions aimed at reducing the moment about the L5/S1 intervertebral joint during ground harvesting activities. The results of the analysis of these two first level prototypes showed mixed results relative to their ergonomic impact and impact on productivity. 
  • agriculture,
  • harvesting,
  • ground crops,
  • ergonomics,
  • back injury
Publication Date
July 30, 2003
Las Vegas, NV
Copyright 2003 ASABE
Citation Information
Gary A. Mirka, Gwanseob Shin, Yu Shu, Zheng Li, et al.. "Harvesting Ground Level Crops: A Biomechanical Assessment and Ergonomic Intervention" 2003 ASAE Annual International Meeting (2003)
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