Narrator: This is Science Today. The olive industry in California is one of the state's old traditional industries, but in the last decade over a quarter of its acreage has been lost.
Ferguson: We must be almost down to 22,000 acres in the state now and the major reason at this point in time is the cost of hand harvesting and the difficulty of it.
Narrator: Louise Ferguson is an olive specialist at the University of California, Davis, and has been involved in developing a new prototype of an economically viable mechanical harvester.
Ferguson: We started initially designing a harvester for the tree that we had, which was kind of a mistake because no successful mechanical harvesting is developed without changing the tree and the machine at the same time. So, over six years we've gone from very large tree machines and trees to smaller, more compact trees and to smaller machines. I finally think we hit the right point — a prototype is ready for commercialization.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.