From discussions with various role players in the horticultural sector it is evident that one of the major needs for the industry is to have clear proof that the inputs that we provide transforms into higher production of class A fruit.
Sure we are using orchard walks, record keeping of nutritional inputs, remote sensing etc, but is that giving us the return on investment the industry needs. The cash crops have the luxury of yield maps to provide evidence of rectifying management zone within a field, something the fruit industry have not yet been able to produce.
Per orchard values are available for years which provides some indication of performance but is not adressing the micro management of underperforming zones within a orchard. We have in the past conducted trials to try and capture in zone production, but a few major issues came to the forthfront during the capturing process:
1. During harvesting the squad alocated to each orchard needs to harvest at an adequate rate to supply to the packhouse. It is clear that the farmers are pushed for time and micro in management zone harvesting is not the ideal
2. Alocating the responsibility to the leader of a group of harvesters to indicate in which zone the harvesting proses is curently taking place is to much of a challenge for the individual.
3. Different harvesting techniques for each team has been formed and it is challenging to change these patterns
It became clear that the calculation of the yield per zone needs to be captured before harvest. Maybe it is something worth discussing. Have you found something to work in certain areas? At the moment I feel that having some data of yield variation within a block is better than having a single value for an entire orchard. Maybe you have picked up some good ideas to test during your consultation with producers?
Comments are welcome