Cherries Tasmania Orchards are hoping to improve efficiency and productivity this season, as well as ensuring compliance with new Horticulture Award regulations, following the implementation of harvest management tool AgPick.
AgPick Technology CEO Henrietta Child says that the company has evolved its innovative picking solution to specifically target cherry producers, following positive engagement with growers at the Fruit Growers Tasmania conference in June.
"Cherries Tasmania's decision to implement AgPick was driven by two issues challenging growers today," she said. "Firstly, it was prompted by Fair Work's decision that growers must record pieceworkers' hours and pay the minimum hourly rate under a variation to the Horticulture Award and secondly, by the need to capture accurate picker time records, including breaks. We’re delighted to make inroads into the cherry industry and work with such a respected producer."
Photo: Cherries Tasmania's orchard foreman Chris Martin manages the first harvest using AgPick (Source: AquaPR)
Ms Child said AgPick Technology was asked to set up and implement a cherry model for Cherries Tasmania in four weeks and was on the ground ready to go on day one.
"Our AgPick team can now set up a new site for the cherry industry with no delays, apart from delivery of hardware," Ms Child said. “Many cherry growers already have counting solutions but what they need is an accurate reporting system. Growers want to know who picked their fruit to aid traceability. AgPick uploads information in real-time. It can tell the shed what’s coming from the field – what type of fruit, volumes and grade. This both enhances productivity and creates efficiencies.”
AgPick employs RFID technology to capture data at the source and has the ability to read QR codes, bar codes, UHF, individual tags and other technologies as well as mixing and matching workflows to tailor the user experience to the farm’s needs. The AgPick team was on-site at Cherries Tasmania's Old Beach orchard near Hobart to support implementation in time for the eight-nine week cherry harvest. With orchards spread over some 80 hectares, family-owned and operated Cherries Tasmania can employ up to 200 seasonal workers during the peak of its summer period.
Tasmanian grower gains compliance and productivity data
Cherries Tasmania Orchards' managing director Nic Hansen said the producer had been looking to migrate to an automated system to manage its labour for some time before he met the AgPick team at the Fruit Growers Tasmania conference.
"We were conscious during the selection process that any software we employed should help us comply with the new Fair Work regulations and help us keep more accurate records. It was time to move to more modern technologies," Mr Hansen said. "As part of our due diligence, we spoke to other producers using AgPick and it was always highly recommended. We like that AgPick Technology is a smallish Australian company with faces and names we know and with people who can be on the ground to support us - people who are relatable, approachable and understand what we're trying to do. How the process has unfolded from our initial contact in November after the Fair Work decision to roll-out in time for the harvest in December is its strength."
Mr Hansen said compliance would be Cherries Tasmania's immediate benefit. However, over time, he says more data will increase productivity and inform decision making.
"By collecting better data over future harvest seasons, we'll be able to determine when people are at their most productive and when we need to call it a day," Mr Hansen said.
AgPick is also in use in the berry industry and can be applied to any fresh produce line and over any number of sites.
Press Release source: Aqua Public Relations on behalf of AgPick Technology.