Ontario’s tender fruit and apple growers have joined forces with a local agtech company to further develop its smartphone-powered computer vision system for Ontario tree fruit.
Ontario Tender Fruit and Ontario Apple Growers are working with Kingston, ON-based Croptracker to expand their Harvest Quality Vision (HQV) system with new crop load and defect detection tools.
These enhancements to the HQV system will enable scanning of both harvested and unharvested fruit to identify possible defects. Growers will also be able to scan fruit growing in their orchards early in the growing season to determine size and colour accuracy, which will greatly improve the accuracy of yield and harvest timing predictions.
“An enhanced Harvest Quality Vision system will help growers have more consistent, higher quality fruit and less reliance on manual processes,” says Phil Tregunno, chair, Ontario Tender Fruit Growers. “For many growers, labor represents the biggest share of their cost of production and adding automation will help offset some costs.”
An enhanced Harvest Quality Vision system will help growers have more consistent, higher quality fruit and less reliance on manual processes, says Phil Tregunno, chair of the Ontario Tender Fruit Growers.
Harvest Quality Vision uses artificial intelligence to determine fruit size, colour and crop load. Growers are automatically alerted if it finds deviations from acceptable standards. Not only does this eliminate time-consuming manual inspection of harvested fruit, but it also lets growers and field/orchard managers respond to crop load issues, quality defects or disease issues before the fruit is packed.
“This technology will let us respond more quickly to problems, defects or disease issues not just before harvested fruit is packed, but also while the crop is still growing in the orchard,” adds Brian Rideout, vice-chair, Ontario Apple Growers. “It’s another tool for growers to ensure we’re producing and delivering the best quality local fruit for consumers.”
HQV is the latest addition to the Croptracker software system, which traces its roots back to the Ontario apple industry and growers needing a tool to automate tracking crop protection applications in orchards. Apple Tracker, Fruit Tracker and Nursery Tracker were ultimately combined into Croptracker, which offers traceability, record-keeping, scheduling, employee communication and analytics and reporting capabilities.
“We have a long history of partnership with Ontario fruit growers and our collaborations with the industry and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs have been essential to the success of Croptracker,” says Matthew Deir, founder and chief technology officer of Croptracker.
The project is funded in part by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year provincial-territorial initiative.