Priest Bros is a fourth-generation family-owned and operated orchard that has been growing high quality fruit for over 100 years. It is located in Pakenham, on the edge of the Gippsland region of Victoria. The fruit growing company has around 80 acres of apples trees spread over three properties that produce many different varieties. Not only do they grow their own apples, but they offer a packhouse for other growers.
With the goal of precisely tracking their fruit growth, Priest Bros decided to start using the precision agriculture tool Pixofarm before the beginning of the 2020 season. This helped them know which size the apples reached at the end of the season, the ideal timing to harvest the fruits, and plan the distribution of the harvest.
Pixofarm is an AgTech startup that offers a solution to empower fruit producers to optimize their harvest. Growers use the Pixofarm app on their smartphone to take pictures of a sample of fruits and trees in their orchards and get reliable real-time information on current and predicted average diameter, the average number of fruits, size class distribution, and additional relevant information. By having this information weeks in advance, producers can improve their yield, choose the right market, and negotiate better prices for their production. The technology is based on image processing and artificial intelligence, which enables every smartphone to capture fruits such as apples, pears, and citrus fruit.
“When we got to know about the importance of yield monitoring in the fruit production value chain, we realized that currently this process is being done mostly manually and the alternative solutions are either not accurate enough or rather expensive.After doing extensive research and having discussions with experts in the field, we developed a very clear vision. We want to empower fruit growers worldwide to optimize their yield, use resources more efficiently and get the most out of their orchards.” – Farid Edrisian, CEO of Pixofarm says.
Priest Bros analyzed 1.3 hectares of their apple orchard with the Pixofarm app. Specifically, they used the fruit sizing feature, which helped them get data of the average diameter,size class distribution and the daily growth rate of their fruits.
Since Priest Bros got the value of fruit size tracking right away, they managed to do regular data collection rounds, reaching more than 10 measurement rounds throughout the season. This made the predictions extremely accurate and enabled them to plan further along the value chain, such as working out the right amount of packaging and the exact moments for supplying independent retailers. In hindsight, they emphasized the ease of use of Pixofarm as well as the precise tracking of fruit growth.
“Pixofarm is easy to use and has helped us keep track of the growth and quantity of our crop quickly and effectively. With great customer support and help wherever needed, we look forward to continuing using this program in the future and are excited to see the growth and future technology they provide. “ – Paul and Tarryn Priest say.