An ARDC case study

Mango farmers are saving money and improving production with a new data-driven product

  • The problem: Predicting the optimum time and estimated yield for mango harvest
  • The approach: Using data to create an accurate way of estimating crop yield and the best time to harvest
  • The outcome: The new product enables growers to pinpoint the best time to pick their crops

The problem: Predicting the optimum time and estimated yield for mango harvest

Timing is everything to Australian mango farmers. They regularly face the challenge of deciding when to harvest their fruit, which affects how many fruit pickers and packers they need and when to market their fruit.

The approach: Using data to create an accurate way of estimating crop yield and the best time to harvest

Researchers from Central Queensland University’s Institute for future Farming Systems worked with the ARDC to develop an innovative product called FruitMaps, which translates data from sensors located in mango farms onto maps and into tables. The data includes an array of information, including temperature, fruit assessment and processed tree images to help farmers decide when to harvest their mangoes.

The outcome: The new product enables growers to pinpoint the best time to pick their crops

machine vision rig
In-field imaging rig for counting fruit on a farm buggy. Image credit: Professor Kerry Walsh

The data-driven system has been widely adopted within Queensland’s mango industry, providing farmers with a more accurate, efficient and cost-effective way of managing their mango production.

Farmers now can better estimate the size of their crops and the best time for harvesting, allowing them to employ the optimal number of pickers and packers at the optimal time. Consumers benefit from having better mangoes.

Farm performance has increased by more than 40 per cent for some mango farmers.

The project’s success laid the foundation for further improvements for mango farmers. The research team has now developed an automatic fruit harvester, based on the data services and technology running the Fruitmaps system.

The prototype takes only five seconds to harvest a mango.

Fruit growers in Queensland have described the new data-drive technology as a game changer.

“The end goal is to save costs and improve productivity on the farm, while driving consumer demand by ensuring a top-quality eating experience every time,” one farmer said.

“Knowing how much fruit is in that block, knowing when it’s going to be mature and knowing the size of the fruit, means we can schedule our workforce, order the right number of cartons and the size of the inserts going into those cartons – this could be a real game changer, not only for our farm but for the entire industry.”

 

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