Banner Image
Cherry Farms Begin to Track Pickers through Data

Cherry Farms Begin to Track Pickers through Data


Cherry Farms Begin to Track Pickers through Data

To meet new piece-rate payment requirements, a Tasmanian cherry orchard has implemented picker tracking technology. AgPick Technology was introduced by Cherries Tasmania Orchards at the start of the harvest in December to help keep track of workers’ hours and productivity. The programme notifies producers who picked their fruit and uploads the data in real time, as well as informing the shed about what’s coming from the field, such as fruit variety, volume, and grade. The Fair Work Commission kept farmers’ authority to pay workers piece rates under the Horticulture Award in November of last year, but set a fixed minimum casual rate of $25.41 per hour. Many in the horticulture business have revised and re-thought how they compensate their employees as a result of the decision. Nic Hansen, managing director of Cherries Tasmania Orchards, said the company had been looking for an automated solution to manage their labour for some time before meeting the AgPick team at the Fruit Growers Tasmania conference.

“Any software we used during the selection process had to help us comply with the new Fair Work standards and retain more accurate records,” says the company. Mr Hansen believed that it was time to transition to more current technologies. “As part of our due diligence, we spoke with other AgPick users, and they all strongly praised it. The strength of the process has been how it has unfolded from our initial interaction in November following the Fair Work ruling to roll-out in time for the harvest in December.” Mr Hansen stated that Cherries Tasmania would gain immediately from compliance. More data, on the other hand, would boost productivity and inform decision-making over time.

Following strong contact with growers at the Fruit Growers Tasmania conference in June 2021, AgPick Technology chief executive officer Henrietta Child said the business changed its picking solution to exclusively target cherry producers. “Two concerns confronting growers today drove Cherries Tasmania’s decision to deploy AgPick,” Ms Child explained. “It was driven, first, by Fair Work’s determination that under a variation to the Horticulture Award, farmers must record pieceworkers’ hours and pay the minimum hourly rate, and, second, by the requirement to collect precise picker time records, including breaks.

“We’re excited to break into the cherry market and collaborate with such a reputable producer. AgPick Technology was required to build up and implement a cherry model in four weeks for Cherries Tasmania, and was on the ground and ready to go on day one at the orchard in Old Beach, near Hobart. Many cherry producers already have counting solutions, but what they need is an accurate reporting system.

Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)