Physiological cost of apple-farming activities

G. Costa, F. Berti, A. Betta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Seventeen agricultural male workers, aged between 21 and 56 years, were investigated in the field during six different job-activities of apple-farming: pruning, weeding, hand and mechanical spraying, mowing and picking. Pulmonary ventilation and oxygen consumption were recorded for short periods by Oxylog, while heart rate was monitored for more than 24 hours by Holter's method. The farmers also rated the work intensity according to Borg's RPE scale. Pulmonary ventilation ranged on average between 13 and 30 1/min and oxygen consumption between 500 and 1300 ml/min, with a relative aerobic cost between 15 and 40%, in the different work activities. Heart rate varied on average between 80 and 94 beats/min with a relative cardiac cost between 20 and 30%. The physiological criteria (oxygen uptake and cardiac response) and the subjective rating of fatigue gave a substantially similar evaluation of the work strain, 'moderate-heavy' for mowing, weeding and picking, 'moderate' for pruning and hand spraying, 'light' for mechanical spraying of pesticides. On the whole, apple-farming can be evaluated as 'moderate' intensity, thanks to the mechanisation implemented in reducing the work-load and the work-time of many job activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-286
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1989


  • agriculture
  • Human performance
  • physiological effects
  • workload

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics


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