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Historical document

Next generation' integrated orchard management software (MT06063)

Key research provider: OzProduction
Publication date: May, 2009

This is a final research report from Hort Innovation’s historical archives. Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.

What was it all about?

Like many industries, the Australian fresh produce industry was in a state of rapid change. Massive consolidation of supply was occurring with growers amalgamating into various forms of supply chain to give them a critical mass of product with which to supply large customers – either on domestic markets or overseas.

As this consolidation occured new demands were put on the chain. These include;

  • A new, higher level of production information was required. Varieties, volumes, timing etc, need to be listed for each orchard and then integrated across the chain.
  • Stronger price pressures. For fruit, around 50 per cent of the total cost of production was incurred in the orchard. To be competitive there was now very strong pressure to better manage orchard-related costs (such as labour, chemicals, fertilizer, water, fuel etc) while still achieving a high yield and a high packout percentage of the sizes the customer desires.
  • Food safety and environmental obligations became paramount. A supply chain with a number of suppliers could not risk being denied a market due to a food safety violation by one orchard. Similarly, major retailers were rightly demanding more and more evidence of appropriate chemical use and environmental stewardship.

OzProduction, was part of the Holman Fresh supply chain and had worked with Sumo Software to develop a “Next Generation”, of integrated orchard management software that allowed the capture and reporting of the data needed to respond to the pressures described above.

Know as the “igrow” Orchard Management System the new system was web-based for multi-user access, intuitive to use, and integrated data across various orchard operations.

For example once a tractor was “set up” on the system (i.e. its operating parameters were entered into the system) it could be used (without further data entry) by the system for all appropriate orchard operations - tree spraying, weed spraying, mowing etc.

Igrow allowed the printing of simple “Job Sheets” from the system that could be given to orchard staff specifying the execution of the task. For example, in spraying, the job sheet, printed from the system, would prescribe the product, rate and number of vats required to spray the block as well as the tractor, gear and engine revs to be used. In one operation the manager captured the data related to the task, completed the orchard’s spray diary and instructed the worker. A truly integrated operation.

A wide range of reports could be produced by igrow and these could be tailored to various orchards. Operating costs could be reported in $/ha, $/tree or $/kg of fruit produced.

OzProduction and Sumo Software intended to make the program available to other orchards and supply chains.


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Funding statement:
This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) with the financial support of OzProduction.

Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2009. The Final Research Report (in part or as whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation (except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)).