Cherries Tasmania 4_hr

Cherries Tasmania's orchard foreman Chris Martin manages the first harvest using AgPick

AgPick Technology has extended the reach of its harvest management tool, AgPick, to the cherry sector.

The South Australian company’s solution has been implemented by Cherries Tasmania Orchards.

'Cherries Tasmania's decision to implement AgPick was driven by two issues challenging growers today,” explained AgPick Technology chief executive Henrietta Child.

“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.”

AgPick captures and reports on field activities, helping producers record picker movements. It 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.

Already used in the berry category, Child said her company modified its solution to cater for cherry producers following positive engagement with growers at Fruit Growers Tasmania's conference in June.

AgPick Technology was able to implement a cherry model for Cherries Tasmania Orchards within the space of four weeks.

“Our AgPick team can now set up a new site for the cherry industry with no delays, apart from delivery of hardware,' 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.”

With orchards spread over some 80ha, family-owned and operated Cherries Tasmania Orchards can employ up to 200 seasonal workers during the peak of its summer period.

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.

'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,' 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.'

Hansen said compliance would be Cherries Tasmania's immediate benefit. However, more data would also 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,” he explained.