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National Orchard Talk – ‘Orchard Data: Average isn’t good enough’

Technology & Data

For APAL’s National Online Orchard Talk on 18 November 2021, Nic Finger (Fruit Help) and Craig Hornblow (AgFirst) provided a deep-dive on best practice for collecting and using orchard data.  


Nic and Craig highlighted the growing range of technology available to help growers collect, organise and analyse their orchard data, from unmanned AI fruit-counting to irrigation sensors and dashboards showing trends over time – but it can be as simple as starting with a spreadsheet. 

Whatever the tools used, the key to success is going back to basics and knowing exactly what data you need to collect and use – not just “data for data’s sake”. Start with the data you already have and build from there. 

Some of the examples of data collection tools referenced (both commercial and emerging technologies): 

Farm Vision 

Agtech for tree fruit and nut industries, based on research from the University of Minnesota. Provides data on: 

  • Fruit count 
  • Size measurement 
  • Location tracking and mapping 


Mobile-based app using in-field photographs to determine: 

  • Fruit size 
  • Fruit count 
  • Growth rate 
  • Yield estimation 
  • Size-class distribution 

Green Atlas  

Hardware and software for managing the life cycle of trees with detailed orchard mapping (Green Atlas Cartographer). 

See our previous article here. 


Comprehensive orchard data collection to support tree health, farming efficiency and fruit optimisation with a combination of: 

  • Drones 
  • Ground collection tools (vehicles and IoT) 
  • Boots-on-the-ground data collection 


A suite of tools and platforms that use drone and satellite imagery to provide actionable tree and yield insights, including: 

  • Tree inventories for managing replanting programs and production capacity 
  • Performance of individual blocks 
  • Early detection of pest and disease 
  • Tracking impact of interventions 

 Some of the examples of tools for irrigation management: 


In-tree sensors using Stem Water Potential (SWP) measurement. 


Microchip tensiometer (microtensiometer) that is embedded into the tree woody tissue and directly measures SWP, with supporting data visualisation software. 


Integrated system of multiple sensors (irrigation, health, fruit size) with analytics and recommendations. 

Netafim NetBeat™ 

Cloud-based software bringing together varied data inputs, producing analytics and modelling, as well as recommendations. 

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