Data and traceability pave the way for export quality

Data is the future, and increasingly the present. Tie Up Farming is a startup aiming to consolidate data activities for labour intensive industries with the goal of improving efficiency across the board, especially when it comes to preparing fruit for export.

Tie Up Farming’s proposition is simple: make farming smarter. They do this by using a comprehensive set of data collection tools and connected cloud-based software to inform decision making throughout the orchard and the packing shed. The idea of data collection isn’t new, but Tie Up Farming takes it to the next level with bespoke systems, a grounded approach, and a team that is always on-call for users.

CEO Roei Yaakobi says the idea came from the growers themselves.

“Hands down, everyone understands the value of data. What we do is the result of an evolution to deliver exactly what growers need,” he said.

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Tie Up Farming started with sensors in the orchard, and now includes modules that will cover all aspects of the farm, including hourly rate and piece rate, spray and fertiliser diary (including inventory management), CA storage management, and more. The company has been operating for four years, primarily with labour-intensive enterprises like apples and pears, stone fruit, and cherries.

The company has just finalised a seed round of investments, and Roei said their investment target was achieved easily.

“AgTech is booming right now, and farmers wanted everything in one place when it comes to data,” he said.

In many ways it’s been the perfect storm for ventures like Tie Up Farming. Consumer preferences for traceability, labelling requirements, export protocols, lengthening supply chains, and regulatory labour hire reporting have all converged and require growers to have a much deeper understanding of their business. Now, the technology has caught up.

“We provide the deep data. We don’t tell growers what to do, because they’ve been growing far longer than we’ve been operating. We respect that. But we’re shining a light into some of the darker places to make things more efficient. We also make the constant increase in regulatory requirement easier for agribusinesses to comply with so they can focus more on the growing side of things.”

Tie Up Farming is more about software than the sensors; they offer a cloud-based software solution to tie together data operations from every stage of the operation, in much the same way Xero and MYOB have transformed historical ledger sheets.

“We try to change as little as we can. If they want the full package, great, but we start with one part and grow it from there,” said Roei.

“Our business is driven by grower demand. It’s about the stuff they need now. We say: ‘What is your issue today? That’s what should be addressed first’.”

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Time is the biggest challenge, and implementing technology takes time and patience.

“Agribusinesses are very complicated; a Fortune 500 CEO wouldn’t be able to manage 100 pickers. Our industry is a people industry, and in people industries everything takes time. The key is to make it (the technology) extremely user friendly and flexible enough to suits all shapes and type of agribusinesses,” said Roei.

“There are always problems, we expect that. And if you go in with that attitude, they’re not really problems.”

Tie Up Farming is a Gold sponsor for the upcoming APAL Industry Forum in June, and as part of their sponsorship are running a special promotion for attending growers. The first 10 who sign up will receive a free weather station sensor and free version of the spray diary.

Tie Up Farming is branching out internationally, with operations in Malaysia and plans to move into the US. But no matter where the business ends up, the core of the company has always been customer service.

“For us, technology is what gets us in the door, but it’s our customer service that we’re proud of: 24/7, 365 days a year, we turn up. When the growers work, we work. We’re keen to be there with them,” he said.

Tie Up Farming CEO Roei Yaakobi will be attending the APAL Industry Forum in June.

 

By |June 11th, 2019|R&D updates, Technology and robotics|

About the Author:

APAL is an industry representative body and not-for-profit membership organisation that supports Australia’s commercial apple and pear growers.