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2021 Smart Orchard Launch at Washington Fruit & Produce with Researchers, Tech Providers, and Grower

Join us for an in-person Field Day- July 30th @ 9-12 am in Grandview

Table of Contents:

  • 2020 Smart Orchard Recap

  • 2021 Smart Orchard Kick Off @ Washington Fruit Grandview Ranch

  • About the Growers

  •'s role in this years Smart Orchard Project

  • Researcher Collaboration

Stay tuned for a complementary post dedicated to the sensors implemented at this orchard location.

Sign Up for our Upcoming Smart Orchard Field Day @ WA Fruit!

Join us for an in-person 'Field Day' at our V.2 Smart Orchard location to hear personally from researchers, tech providers, growers, and other partners involved in the project. Get your chance to see the sensors implemented, learn about their functions, and the associated research that's underway.

When: July 30th from 9-12am

Where: 3142 N. County Line, Grandview, WA

Who: Growers of any kind are encouraged to participate, industry workers, tech providers, or anyone simply interested in learning more

Note: if you are not able to make it to the opening discussion feel free to drop in at any time between 9-12am and someone will be there to accomidate to your questions.


2020 Smart Orchard

As many of you might know, in 2020, Washington State's Tree Fruit Research Commission asked to lead a Smart Orchard Project in collaboration with researchers from WSU & OSU at Chiawana Orchards. Our goal was to "sensorize" an orchard from multiple hardware providers, bringing together growers, data, and researchers to create a sustainable, "smart" orchard with insights that impact growers' bottom lines.

Data Sources:

  • Weather

  • Irrigation

  • Soil

  • Chemicals

  • Disease

  • Pests

  • Crop Health

  • Labor

  • Imagery

Our 2020 Goals:

  • Integrating data provided by a ecosystem sensors and data providers

  • Provide consolidated data warehousing to collect & consolidate data, leveraging Microsoft Farmbeats for efficiencies thru API data interchanges

  • Provide regular insights and analyses of integrated data

  • Provide consolidated raw access to data

Our Approach:

  • Learn capabilities of modern orchard decision making with basic AI and Data Analytics

  • Shift grower decision making process to enable management decisions based on unified data, and 'smart management'

  • Help growers better manage their water usage, labor, equipment, and chemical usage

  • Enable growers to better understand weather and climate change to make precise, informed decisions.


2021 Smart Orchard

For 2021 growing season, was commissioned to expand to a second Smart Orchard site at Washington Fruit Grandview Ranch to focus on Honeycrisp apples, a high value and water sensitive variety. April 22nd marked the official kick-off day as WSU researchers, tech providers, and growers joined together to share their plans and tactics for this exciting project.

The overarching goal of the 2021 Smart Orchards Project is to enable grower decisioning by tying disparate data sources from various IoT agtech sensors to precisely allocate and manage a growers resources like irrigation, soil, chemicals, labor, and weather while increasing yields and quality to save money.

To obtain this goal, every collaborator has to communicate with the growers to understand their current decision making processes so that we can properly test the viability of each sensor and how agtech can improve their overall decision making processes. The end goal having a more precise allocation of resources, increased yield and fruit quality while saving money on irrigation, chemicals, labor, etc.'s role is to aggregate data from all of the IoT sensors in order to get a side by side comparison. This will allow us to pin point data accuracy and the viability each sensor for a growers usability and price points. Not only will we be conducting a very similar strategy to the 2020 Smart Orchard, but is also introducing our base crop count imaging capabilities into the project scope - which opens the door to showing cause and effect based on data collected/insights gained. brought both our trucks and ATVs equipped with the Green Atlas Cartographer,

SoilOptix Digital Top Soil Mapping System, and Smart Guided Systems Permanent Crop Analyzer.This was particularly exciting due to the fact that we had the opportunity to openly share and utilize our Mobile Ag Datacenter with researchers, growers, and other tech providers in a rural area. Where cellular service can be non-existent, having the

2021 Ford F-150 3.5L Powerboost™ V6 hybrid

engine that comes with a class exclusive

7.2kW ProPower Onboard becomes extremely

handy to power a mobile datacenter out in the field. We will be discussing this capability in greater detail in a future Mobile Ag Datacenter post. Stay tuned!


Grower Collaboration

Washington Fruit & Produce Co. has been a family-owned growing, packing, and shipping operation for over 100 years. In 1916, Fred B. Plath saw the unlimited potential of the fertile region of Yakima County and started the Washington Fruit Company. More than 100 years later, the company continues to grow, pack and ship some of the highest quality apples, pears and cherries. Gilbert Plath, one of Washington Fruits' family owners decided to follow in his dad's footsteps as he grew up working in Washington apple orchards for most of his early life. The Smart Orchard Collaboration between, WSU, WTFRC, and various ag tech providers are delighted to have the opportunity to directly work with the growers/owners with historical legacy in the Washington Apple Industry.

USApple 2020 Young Apple Leaders: Gilbert Plath

CLICK HERE or on the image to read more.

Growing Generations: 2018 Good Fruit Growers of the Year

CLICK HERE or on the image to read more.


Researcher Collaboration

From a researcher partnership perspective, there are about twelve researchers partnering from WSU and WTFRC, many of which were present for the kick-off - Funding for the project ties to Ines Hanrahan, WTFRC Executive Director, who provides industry expertise and resources to enable the Smart Orchard operations. Lav Khot, co-PI on the project, a Associate Professor in Ag Engineering at WSU was accompanied by their drone imaging team- Dr. Abhilash K. Chandel (Post-Doctoral Research Associate), Dr. Anura Rathnayake (Post-Doctoral Research Associate), Mr. Gajanan Kothawade (Graduate Research Assistant), and Mr. Jake Schrader (Graduate Research Assistant). Lee Kalcsits, an associate professor in Tree Fruit Physiology and Endowed Chair of Tree Fruit Environmental Physiology at WSU brought in microtensiometers, sap flow sensors, and tree dendrometers which were funded by the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission. He was accompanied by Dr. Victor Blanco, a postdoctoral researcher. Dave Brown, a WSU Associate Professor of Soil Science will be assisting and managing the research developed from on-farm weather stationsLastly, Bernardita Sallato, WSU Tree Fruit Extension Specialist was also accompanied by a masters student.

Ines Hanrahan- WTFRC Executive Director

Dr. Hanrahan serves as Executive Director of the WTFRC effective August 2018. She was previously employed as a Project Manager by the Commission since 2005.

Ines holds a Diploma in Agricultural Engineering from Humboldt University Berlin, Germany in 1999 and a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Washington State University.

Her professional background in practical and academic horticulture encompasses research, teaching, and consulting for the past 20+ years. Dr. Hanrahan’s expertise includes the management of scientific projects such as: apple postharvest physiological disorder prevention, optimization of cropping and storage systems for pome fruit, management of plant material evaluation from breeding programs for commercial suitability, and applied food safety research. Overall, her primary focus is on expediting transfer of research results to implementation, while providing an ongoing link between scientists and the industry. In addition, she is passionate about training and mentoring the next generation of industry professionals


Dave Brown- WSU Associate Professor of Soil Science

Dave Brown's research group is focused on measuring, modeling and explaining the spatial variability of soil properties and processes at hillslope to regional scales. In pursuing this research, they make extensive use of digital terrain modeling, optical remote sensing, spatial statistics, and proximal soil sensing techniques (e.g. VisNIR spectroscopy).

His instructional responsibilities include: (1) an undergraduate course on world agricultural systems (SoilS/CropS 360) taught every fall; (2) a graduate-level Environmental Spatial Statistics course (SOILS/STAT 508) taught every spring.

Current Projects

  • His general interests lie in precision agriculture, proximal soil and crop sensing, soil biogeochemistry, and spatial statistics. Specific projects include:

  • Site-Specific Climate-Friendly Farming (Project Director for a large, multi-institution, collaborative project funded by USDA-NIFA, 2011-2016)

  • Soil dimensions of field phenomics (pilot project with WSU wheat breeders)

  • Precision orchard management


Lav Khot, PhD- WSU Associate Professor, Ag Engineering

Dr. Khot works in the Agricultural Automation Engineering research emphasis area of the Department of Biological Systems Engineering. His research and extension program focuses on “Sensing and automation technologies for site specific and precision management of production agriculture”. Special emphasis is towards integration of:

  • Crop Sensing (ground and aerial systems)

  • Internet-of-Things enabled Cyber Physical Systems

  • Edge and Cloud Compute driven Decision Support Systems

  • Smartphone Apps & Information Delivery Technologies

  • Precision Chemical Application Technologies

  • Agricultural Machinery, Processes & Data-based Modeling

Team Members:

  • Dr. Abhilash K. Chandel (Post-Doctoral Research Associate)

  • Dr. Anura Rathnayake (Post-Doctoral Research Associate)

  • Mr. Gajanan Kothawade(Graduate Research Assistant)

  • Mr. Jake Schrader (Graduate Research Assistant).


Bernardita Sallato- Tree Fruit Extension Specialist Washington State University IAREC

Bernardita’s program provides leadership in applied research, extension, and outreach for the PNW tree fruit industry. Her goal is improving orchard efficiency and fruit production through horticultural management practices and technology.

Main areas of interest are 1) Soils and plant nutrition; 2) Tree fruit stress management; and 3) General horticultural practices for tree fruit production.


M.Sci. Physiology and Fruit Production Area – PUC, Chile (2006)

B.Sci. Agriculture Engineer – Horticulture – PUC, Chile (2004)


Matthew Whiting- Scientist/Professor/ Extension Specialist

  • Whole-tree physiology

  • High efficiency orchard architecture

  • Incorporating automation/mechanization in fruit production systems,

  • Environmental control of fruit quality;

  • Pollination biology


Ph.D., Whole-tree physiology, Washington State University

M.Sc., Postharvest physiology, University of Guelph

B.Sc., Horticultural Science and Business, University of Guelph


Lee Kalcsits- Assistant Professor, Tree Fruit Physiology

  • Areas of Interest

  • Tree fruit physiology

  • Abiotic stress

  • Plant nutrition

  • Impacts of preharvest environment on postharvest physiology

Educational Background

Ph.D., Tree Physiology, University of British Columbia

M.S., Tree Ecophysiology, University of Saskatchewan

B.S., Horticulture, University of Saskatchewan

Program Objectives

  • Develop new tools for identifying the nutritional status of fruit trees

  • Advance the understanding of how environment (light, temperature, water, nutrients) affects fruit tree physiology, growth and development

  • Create management strategies to mitigate physiological problems that are associated with abiotic stress in fruit treesAdd text to your email.


Troy Peters- PhD, Professor, Biological Systems Engineer

Troy’s research work is in the Land, Air, Water Resources, and Environmental Engineering (LAWREE) emphasis area. His primary focus is on agricultural irrigation. This includes deficit irrigation, irrigation water hydraulics, irrigation scheduling and management, irrigation automation, sprinkler irrigation efficiency, low energy precision application (LEPA), low elevation spray application (LESA), and crop water use estimation. Troy is located at the Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser, WA, and is also affiliated with the Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems.


Feel free and encouraged to forward this email to someone you may know that may be interested in this project or our upcoming field day

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