Precision tools in development for orchard management

Crop-production specialist Hutchinsons is developing two new precision farming tools for orchards that could help top-fruit growers better manage their crops.

Blackman: technical manager - image: Hutchinsons
Blackman: technical manager - image: Hutchinsons

At its West Midlands top-fruit discussion group last month, the UK-based company revealed to growers that it has plans to launch new precision farming tool Omnia Fruit Vision specifically for fruit growers.

It also revealed that it is planning to tailor its existing Omnia nutrient decision and precision farming support system, currently used in arable crops, to fruit crops.

Hutchinsons horticultural technical manager Dr Jonathan Blackman said: "This (Omnia Fruit Vision) is a system that can accurately count and grade apples and provide yield analysis in situ.

"Using a forward speed of between 6km and 8km, Fruit Vision takes 20 images per second and calculates yield and sizes of apples to 95 per cent accuracy.

"It provides the information that allows intelligent and informed decision-making by the top-fruit grower."

Fruit Vision can also be used earlier on in the season to pinpoint thinning requirements in the orchard, he added. "Later on it assesses crop yields and predicts storage volumes required. It gives the size bands accurately in situ, so assisting the sales desk with marketing plans. It also helps with accurate calculation and location of bins at picking."

He told growers that Omnia Fruit Vision is being verified early this summer, with limited availability prior to this year's harvest and a full service planned in 2016.

Meanwhile, the Omnia nutrient decision and precision farming support system is due to become available later this year.

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