Mechanically harvesting swedes is not overly difficult but processing them once they have left the field typically requires small armies of workers to trim the roots and heads by hand.
The beginning of the video below gives an idea of what a typical commercial swede trimming set-up might look like. The labour costs of this very manual operation, even on minimum wage, are not insignificant. Furthermore, it is getting harder and harder to find workers willing and able to perform these types of manual tasks.
So, as the market demand is increasing and the availability of labour is decreasing, the answer is to automate. Fortunately, the technology now exists that enables the automated trimming of swedes using robots equipped with 3D machine vision.
See the video below to see the 3D vision system inspecting the shape of the swede and working out where the cut lines should be placed. The cutting data is then sent to a control system which slices the top and tail off the swedes quickly and accurately. The return on the investment for the farmer is measured in months, not years.