Through a research project, supported by Hort Innovation and funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program, professor Kerry Walsh from CQUniversity Australia has developed a non-invasive tool that can determine the ripeness of fruit while still on the tree. This will eliminate produce waste through manual maturity testing and provide insights into the most efficient use of labour is modernising the way tree crop growers harvest.
The project sees high-resolution satellite imagery combined with data from hand-held fruit-scanning devices to better map variations in tree health, crop yield and fruit maturity.
The handheld device, dubbed the F-750 meter, was designed to assess fruit maturity in the field without damaging or sacrificing any of the crop. Using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), the F-750 meter calculates a mango’s dry matter content, which is a measure of the fruits starch and sugar content.
The Australian Mango Industry Association has set specifications on dry matter to achieve acceptable eating quality and they are now offering a service to growers through Hort Innovation funding to check dry matter in the field before harvest using the device.
Hort Innovation General Manager for Research and Development, Alison Anderson, said the capabilities of the tool expanded beyond dry matter measurement to include more spatial data and analytics: “While the tool was specifically designed to assess the ripeness in mangoes, it can be applied to other horticultural crops.”