Article by: Hari Yellina
With the development of an innovative automated GPS-based picking software in collaboration with a Riverland citrus grower, an Australian fresh produce labour management tool is extending to the tree crop business. AgPick Orchard, a new version of the well-known AgPick smart harvest technology, aims to increase production, ensure traceability, and assist tree crop growers in meeting the upcoming Horticultural Award piece-rate standards. According to Henrietta Child, CEO of AgPick Orchard, the present system requires supervisors to enter data, whereas AgPick Orchard is optimised for the orchard setting.
The current AgPick smart harvest software works effectively with someone in charge of overseeing pickers, scanning them in and out, and managing/using the app to tally or process the grades they produce in the field. Citrus growers, on the other hand, have more pickers scattered out. They have large bins and must manually signal when the bins are full and the truck needs to pick them up. As a result, it’s logical to create a new version of the programme that allows for more autonomous activities. This has been aided in part by the availability of cross-platform development tools that are simple to use. That means the farm owners don’t have to be concerned about a picker’s phone, and can rest assured that they will have one.
AgPick Orchard is now in the development process and will be ready for peak season in April in conjunction with Ingy’s Citrus Pty Ltd, Berri. Michael Ingerson, director and fourth-generation producer, expected the software to achieve the company’s major compliance and traceability requirements while also saving up to 15 hours per week in manual data collection, including counting and recording. Over 300 hectares, the family-owned and run citrus grower-packer produces five citrus lines for export and home consumption all year. Ms Child went on to say that Ingy’s had been in talks with AgPick for a while since the producer was interested in operational improvements, but that progress had been hindered by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The AgPick CEO explains that the app would place control in the hands of pickers and tractor drivers and allow them to work autonomously, so it’s a ‘hands-off’ solution yet provides information about who picked a bin and where they picked it. The current AgPick reporting system will still be available to report pickers’ progress and productivity including hours worked and break times. The app’s functionality is also designed to work with new piece-rate requirements coming into effect on April 28.