Crop sizes can be unpredictable, and growers never really know what they have got until it is being sorted and packed, this makes marketing the crop challenging.
There is a new technology on the market which can help growers to market their crops. HarvestEye can precisely measure the size of root crops during harvest. It is an innovative system which simply fits to existing harvesting equipment or farm graders providing live information as the crop is lifted. This is a patented technology giving valuable information on the performance of the whole field instead of conventional sampling.
“If growers know how much of their crop is within the marketable range, they can set a better price for the produce and fulfil customer orders by choosing the right field or stock, thereby increasing crop utilisation and reducing food waste. This also helps to review specifications based on the crop harvested enabling data driven decision making, explains Vidyanath Gururajan, Managing Director at HarvestEye.
This can also benefit packers who may have crop coming from different growers in different areas, and to cover different specifications for customers or export markets. It can add value to the crop.
The technology can also be used to understand crop variability and work out why certain areas are producing less than others, be it a terrain issue or soil issue and can influence decisions for the following year’s planting. It can also give information on which varieties are performing best.
“At the moment we are focussing on potatoes and onions, but we are developing the technology for other root crops such as sweet potatoes and carrots.”
Until now HarvestEye has only been in use in the UK, but this year the product has been introduced in the Australian market and the HarvestEye team are also looking towards North America and Europe.
“Growing potatoes in the UK is small scale compared to other countries such as USA and Australia. The technology works the same wherever it is used, with a few small tweaks for bigger areas. The bigger the area the bigger the potential for adding value as some growing areas are a good distance from the storage depots and markets. It can help growers make decisions before storing or exporting produce.”
The technology is very ‘farmer friendly’ and easy to use, it can be installed on a wide range of harvesting equipment and once installed it gets more efficient using machine learning.
“Although the technology behind the scenes is complex, it is very robust and can withstand the bumpy and dusty conditions at harvesting. Due to Covid we have not been able to travel but have still installed the HarvestEye with a grower in Australia. We intend to supply overseas markets through partnerships.”
According to Vidyananth the return on investment can be as short as one year, depending on the circumstances and use. To purchase a HarvestEye system, there is a one-off payment and a yearly subscription for software and support.