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Spring Future Orchards® Walks – update

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Utilising technology to improve labour efficiency and fruit quality

The spring Future Orchards® walks in November 2019 will explore how agri-tech is evolving growing techniques and supporting decision making. Hear how you can capitalise to maximise production, improve fruit quality, and optimise labour to remain competitive in a consolidating industry.

Technology is rapidly evolving how growers manage their orchards and collect data. Used correctly, efficiencies such as sensors, monitoring applications, and robotics can assist growers by optimising decision making, saving significant time and money by reducing inputs and maximising pack-outs.

The Future Orchards® continues to deliver a strong and engaging programme bringing the latest orchard management techniques to growers in a practical and accessible way. Our speakers will outline how you can prepare yourself to optimise agri-tech.

The field session will continue the technology theme and, being spring, will also discuss and demonstrate the latest knowledge regarding the critical spring tasks particularly thinning.

Northern Loop

The dates and times currently set for each region are:

Presenters will include AgFirst Horticultural Consultant Nic Finger, Rob Blakely, R&D Manager for Stemilt Growers in Washington State, and Angus Hogan the Project Lead for SwarmFarm Robotics.

Rob Blakey is the R&D Manager at Stemilt Growers in Washington state, one of the largest and leading apple, pear, and cherry grower-packer-marketers in the US. Rob grew up and studied in eastern South Africa, earning his PhD in avocado postharvest physiology. Rob worked at Westfalia Fruit in South Africa and the UK as a horticultural researcher in avocados, moved to Washington state in 2016 to work briefly at Washington State University as a postharvest extension agent before moving to Stemilt. Rob manages both the R&D and new variety programmes at Stemilt.

Nic Finger brings extensive experience to his role as Horticultural Consultant with AgFirst. He specialises in both the research and development field and day-to-day orcharding operations. Hailing from Australia, where he grew up on his family’s apple orchard and having previously worked in a project and trial management role for Australia’s government research body (CSIRO), Nic’s data analysis skills are highly-developed. He is experienced in basic summary statistics (comparative analysis) through to statistical model development and evaluation. Nic has a passion for visiting different growing regions throughout the world and discovering useful emerging technology and innovative approaches to fruit production.

Angus Hogan

Angus Hogan is the Horticulture Project Lead at SwarmFarm Robotics, a company delivering autonomous solutions to the Australian agriculture industry. Angus comes from an irrigated cropping and livestock farming family, has a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and is completing a Graduate Certificate of Precision Agriculture. Prior to starting this role he was the Fuse Technologies Product Manager at AGCO, where he was responsible for product introduction, marketing strategy, dealer development and product support for AGCO’s precision ag portfolio across Australia and New Zealand. Angus is based in Shepparton where he is leading the Hort Innovation project: “AP16005 – Developing agri-tech solutions to the Australian apple industry”, a project that is developing commercial solutions to utilise variable rate chemical flower thinning as a tool for the better management of crop load.

Southern Loop

The dates and times currently set for each region are:

Presenters will include AgFirst Horticultural Consultant Steve Sparks, Dirk van Hees a Tree Management and Fertilization Consultant with Fruitconsult in the Netherlands, and Angus Hogan the Project Lead for SwarmFarm Robotics.

Dirk van Hees in consultant with Fruitconsult. His family has been in fruit production for four generations. Leading Dirk to study horticulture and arable farming, during his study he commenced undertook four traineeships, one with Fruitconsult, and with three different fruit growers in Victoria, Australia. After completing his studies he returned to work for Fruitconsult in 2010 as a fruit consultant, specifically in tree management and fertilization. Dirks clients are predominantly based in Holland, Czech Republic and Denmark. In 2018 expanding to include projects in China. Since 2013 Dirk has been involved in the redevelopment of the experimental farm, Proeftuin Randwijk. Conducting a range of field research projects and trials.

craig hornblow

Craig Hornblow has been in the horticultural industry for over 30 years and with Agfirst since 1995. Specialising in apples Craig has travelled extensively throughout Europe and USA studying Dwarf tree management and chemical thinning.

Craig is also strongly committed to grower education and regularly leads field days in New Zealand as well as overseas, bringing to his audience the latest technical advances and good tree management techniques. He regularly provide advice to clients on financial planning and monitoring, training and management, field research and new technology in production systems and fruit quality, and on purchase feasibilities. 

Angus Hogan

Angus Hogan is the Horticulture Project Lead at SwarmFarm Robotics, a company delivering autonomous solutions to the Australian agriculture industry. Angus comes from an irrigated cropping and livestock farming family, has a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and is completing a Graduate Certificate of Precision Agriculture. Prior to starting this role he was the Fuse Technologies Product Manager at AGCO, where he was responsible for product introduction, marketing strategy, dealer development and product support for AGCO’s precision ag portfolio across Australia and New Zealand. Angus is based in Shepparton where he is leading the Hort Innovation project: “AP16005 – Developing agri-tech solutions to the Australian apple industry”, a project that is developing commercial solutions to utilise variable rate chemical flower thinning as a tool for the better management of crop load.

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