Increase efficiency of spraying, and reduce its use

As a young fruit farmer, I went looking for methods to grow fruit as efficiently and cost effective as possible. I noticed something over the years. In the area of ​​mechanization, a lot has happened in recent years. In terms of automation of the administration, it remained very quiet. That is why I and a partner, a few years ago, decided to develop our own administration software, tailored to the needs of a fruit grower.

Agromanager is an online platform, developed for and by farmers. All administration that takes place at the fruit farm can easily be registered in the software, during the work (this is very important). Agromanager is made for growers of pome- and stone fruits but can easily be adapted to other sectors. The software is made up of modules, so every company can select which module package applies to them.

Agromanager is able to trace the fruit from Harvest to Sales, across company boundaries. Agromanager works with unique codes that can be traced through all accounts. Agromanager went online in March 2018, and we currently have more than 130 growers in the Benelux.

Before selling the fruit it first need to be sorted by size and quality. With Agromanager it is possible to trace yields back to the plot. As a fruit grower you know how much each lot has yielded, not only in kilos but also financially.

Spray registration module

The only logical step missing in our tracing story is spray registration. With this module you can register every treatment you gave.

Eventually Agromanager was created to simplify the administration. By registering the treatments, several checks are performed. If a particular dosage or limit is reached, the grower will be informed of this right away. In this way he is guaranteed that all treatments have been carried out according to the rules. By linking treatments to the tracing of the fruit, the customer gets an insight into the treatments that the product has endured.

On the other hand, with this linking, the efficiency of the treatment can be determined . By doing this, you can discover any quality differences between different plots. Certain crop protection products have an influence on the size of the product. Others have an influence on the quality of the product. By placing treatments next to these plot quality data, the efficiency of the products can be determined.

When we equip all our colleagues with a weather station, we can also monitor the efficiency of different pesticides in different weather conditions. When you registrate a plot in Agromanager, all environmental factors must also be taken into account. For example , the soil type must be indicated and the Irrigation must be registered. This is necessary to eliminate local differences. All these data is stored in Agromanager. By combining all data from all growers, analyses can be made. These analyses are done by authorized advisers, which we already collaborate with. The spray registration module is expected to be ready by the first of March. This way our first test users can start registering this year already.

Advice module

In fruit growing industry we receive advice from crop supervisors who visit us at the farm. These walk through the orchard and then give advice to spray certain pesticides or fertilisers. Because we have a mountain of data with Agromanager, we could apply there feedback much more efficiently. Certain treatments do not have to be applied on all the plots at the same dosage. This dosage could be lower for other crops. The time spent by a crop counsellor in the field is too limited for him to see everything. We will be able to solve this much better with Agromanager. Advisors have the opportunity to take your data when they visit. In this way they can go directly to areas where there is a specific observation (these are detected by the grower on the basis of a photo and a GPS location), or where the product quality can be improved (grading results) . This way, his time is used more efficiently.

Growers could then receive advice from their advisor through Agromanager. Nowadays, this is still done via mail. If this could be done via Agromanager in the course of 2020, a grower can receive much more specific advice. And he also only gets to see advice that applies to his farm or plots.

For example, when an advisor sent out a recommendation, for crops in a certain stage, or when it rained recently. The farmer will not receive this advice is it is not necessary for his crops. There is also the possibility to treat certain parts of a plot instead of everything.

Advisors already have a tank mix attached to their advice. This allows growers to convert their advice to a task card in one click . This task card states which crops need to be sprayed and what products are required for this. In this way, an advisor also has insight into whether his advice is being followed up.

Conclusion

With Agromanager it is therefore possible to continue to treat crops with pesticides. Their use will only be lower, but more accurate. Because now only crops are treated that really need it. Big data will help us to detect these crops. Farmers will get the advice to only treat a part of a plot, or at a different dosage.

Sprayers are increasingly equipped for precision agriculture. Our goal is therefore to connect with these machines through the internet, and to manage them as precisely as possible. In this way we use less pesticides. The cost price of the treatment also decreases, and thus also the cultivation costs. Not only the farmer wins in this case, but also nature.

Laurens Tack, Belgium