Quality evaluations should not be taken for granted
Gregory Encina Billikopf, UC Cooperative Extension, Stanislaus County
California Agriculture 61(1):35-39. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v061n01p35.
Subjective quality-evaluation errors in agriculture, such as discarding good-quality product and packing poor-quality product, can be costly to growers and workers. This study of workers and supervisors in a strawberry-plant packingshed revealed the danger in assuming that those responsible for quality control truly understand what is required. We found that the ability of workers to correctly count plants, and to retain or reject them (and explain why), varied considerably. The results highlight the need for employers to carefully define quality parameters, and then test employees and applicants. When top management does not agree on exactly what constitutes acceptable quality, it is difficult to expect quality-control inspectors and workers to understand. Testing, as a tool, can help growers and producers make better employee selection and placement decisions and can also be used for periodic training.
G.E. Billikopf is Area Labor Management Farm Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension, Stanislaus County. Readers may request an Excel spreadsheet for calculating reliability and test scores, or obtain additional information from the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.