Innovative harvesting tool allows for more accurate yield management

Nici de Beer

Date: 04 April 2022

A new harvesting tool that collects location data now, for the first time, enables farmers to easily determine the number of fruit produced in a specific area in an orchard to an almost per tree basis.

The PICKLOGGER™, developed by frontier global agricultural company Agri Technovation, has recently won the innovation award at the Biostimulants World Congress. It is mounted on the clippers used by harvesters and collects location data as workers manually harvest the fruit from the tree.

The GPS coordinates gathered with every snip are sent to the cloud and combined with weight data to produce harvest progress maps. The accumulated data assists farmers in making critical in-season decisions.

At the end of the harvest, the yield maps produced from the recorded data are collated with other available agricultural information, such as soil classification, soil chemical analysis, leaf data, irrigation data, pest data, etc., to allow well-informed decision-making and the formulation of corrective strategies.

First of its kind

According to Erald Smith, Head of Agri Technovation’s services portfolio, PICKLOGGER™ is the first fruit harvesting tool of its kind that collects such accurate location data and incorporates it into yield maps.

Up to now, producers could only look at an orchard’s performance from an absolute average perspective with data provided from the packhouse and other harvest monitoring systems. In other words, the farmer gets a value of x ton/ha for orchard A and y ton/ha for orchard B.

But PICKLOGGER™ facilitates insight into the performance of orchards on a much deeper level than was possible before. Its datasets and comparisons are made available through Agri Technovation’s innovative MYFARMWEB™ platform.

“The greatest benefit or value-add is that it allows the agriculturist in co-operation with the producer to home in on the variance within each of the orchards and accordingly develop corrective management strategies. The eventual result is increased harvest yields over time,” says Smith.

The enhanced level of in-field data measurements that the PICKLOGGER ™ collects also creates opportunities for a variety of other insights. A radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag that marries each fruit-pick to a crate or bin used in the harvesting process, allows PICKLOGGER ™ to integrate with packhouse systems.

Permits more accurate traceability

Using the PICKLOGGER™ with RFID tags facilitates the creation of employee efficiency statistics and indicators that can be used in-season for greater employee productivity. With a fully integrated application, it also enables more accurate traceability from the fruit on the retailer shelf right down to an almost per tree basis.

“Currently the traceability detail stops at orchard level, but PICKLOGGER™ can overcome that ‘last bridge’ that connects the fruit on the retailer’s shelf to the tree in the orchard where the fruit was produced.”

Smith adds that when looking at yields there are a few overarching themes that dominate developments and discussions, all of which the PICKLOGGER™ addresses:

  • Striving towards more uniform management units through reducing in orchard variance over time. In that way increasing yield, reducing costs and optimising income.
  • Quantifying quality parameters – Combining culling factor information from the modern packhouse back to the orchard to generate valuable insights and enable continuous improvement
  • There is an increased focus on optimising nutrition and only giving the trees what is needed to produce the desired yield. The risk of excessive fertilisation has severely damaging influences on the environment.
  • “More crop per drop.” PICKLOGGER™ maps help to identify irrigation problem areas to ensure optimal use of water.
  • Labour efficiency and optimisation – With rising labour costs in most countries, PICKLOGGER™ coupled with RFID technology, enables better labour management decisions.

PICKLOGGER™ used for citrus, avocado, passion fruit and more

Smith says the new harvesting device has already been introduced in South Africa, California in the United States, Australia, New Zeeland and Peru. It will also soon be launched in Spain.

At the moment, it is primarily used on citrus, avocados, table grapes, mangoes and passion fruit. However, PICKLOGGER™’s harvesting capabilities include other fruit that is harvested with shears, scissors, or a pruner.

Agri Technovation is also doing trials with vegetables like peppers (capsicums) and cucumbers.

After much work done by the inventor of PICKLOGGER™, Albert Bijker, this very innovative solution was launched commercially in 2019, and sales grew by more than 400% in 2021.

About Agri Technovation

Agri Technovation, a frontier global agricultural company, believes that technology and innovation powered by data is the formula for the future. The core values of the company are embodied in its belief that precision farming is the key to natural resource management for sustainable profitability. Through their value proposition MYFARMWEB™, Agri Technovation utilises data to offer farmers a bird’s eye view of their farms and provide expert advisory services. The company manufactures bespoke agricultural products and renders specialised services to various sectors in the global agricultural landscape. Agri Technovation is a wholly privately-owned company. Agri Technovation is a technical support team to Laeveld Agrochem, providing precision farming services and a comprehensive plant nutrition range.

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About Laeveld Agrochem

Laeveld Agrochem offers innovative solutions to the agricultural sector and believes in the value of good decision-making and specialist assistance. Supported by a wide spectrum of technical experts, they are geared to address needs ranging from crop protection and soil correction to plant nutrition and crop optimisation. Not only is Laeveld Agrochem the preferred partner of the farmer, but it is also a vital link in the food security chain in South Africa and Africa. The fact that the business has been growing for more than 30 years shows that there is a need for their innovative solutions. Laeveld Agrochem is the exclusive supplier of Agri Technovation products and services through its broad network of agents throughout South Africa.

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