The Future in a Modern Orchard
Updated: Jun 24, 2020
WTFRC Smart Orchard Project
The innov8.ag Team would like to share with you our most recent endeavors in agriculture
Recently innov8.ag had the opportunity to collaborate with WSU and the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission (WTFRC) to initiate what we call the, Smart Orchard Project, on Chiawana Orchards. Our primary goal within this project is to create a real life scenario where we as a company bring the growers, data, and researchers all together to create a sustainable, "smart" orchard.
As a company we are planning to:
• 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.
We will accomplish these goals by:
• Integrating data provided by a ecosystem of sensors and data providers
• Provide consolidated data warehousing to efficiently collect & maintain data
• Provide regular insights and analyses of integrated data
• Provide consolidated raw access to data
What are all of the data types to consider in a smart orchard?
One facet of the Smart Orchard Project includes irrigation data. As discussed in a variety of our previous blogs, water consumption is a tremendous factor in agriculture and has an extreme footprint on our environment. As a company collaborating with WSU and the WTFRC, we are conducting a real life scenario of how an orchard can become 'smart' in its resource management by tying more directly to unified data from several different sources for decision making.
As any orchard owner would agree, water availability and management is foundational to the a successful end-of-season pack-out. innov8.ag is working alongside Tuctronics, AquaSpy, & WSU to provide soil moisture sensors to the Chiawana Orchards in order to improve their insights on water usage and irrigation. Our goal is to move toward providing this orchard with insights that give them the capability to reduce their costs and usage of water.
Providing Chiawana Orchards with insights and analysis of integrated data pertaining to irrigation, disease/pest management, chemicals, and weather will allow orchard management to better consider labor priorities. This opens the door to growers optimizing work orders and dealing with the peaks and valleys of needs vs labor availability, as well as optimizing when to rebalance different labor skill sets across different ranches based on orchard changes throughout the seasons.
Disease and Pests
Instead of having to use a blanket amount of pesticides and chemicals to treat manage disease and pests, our goal is to provide insights on disease & pest risk in different 'hot spots', as well as documenting damage to help train AI to predict future outbreaks. All with the end-goal to optimize labor and chem applications based on where they're needed most.
Chemicals & Nutrients
While chemicals are used for disease and pest management, they're also used for growth management, thinning, sunburn, and to supplement nutrients. Between satellite + drone imaging, and supporting groundtruth, we're working toward showing other areas for optimizing chemical applications across the orchard. Using less chemicals reduces the environmental footprint we leave on nature, saves money for the orchard itself, reduces labor and associated costs, and has the potential to influence crop yield by more accurately dealing with the problem at hand.
innov8.ag and the correlating sensor partners working on this project are working to install and improved weather stations from WSU AgWeatherNet, Meter Group, Davis Instruments, & Tuctronics. These advanced weathers stations give the growers at Chiawana Orchards specific weather patterns and forecasts across
the entire orchard or even in small designated locations of the orchard. Being able to predict and understand the weather in specific areas is key for a grower because often times one section is affected entirely differently than another section on the other side of the orchard. Grower then have the ability to make an informed decision on where potential freeze or heat damage may occur, as well as optimize timing for chemical applications.
Providing valuable sensors from AquaSpy, Teralytic, & Sentek that can collect data on soil nutrients (N, P, K), salinity, pH, aeration, temperature, & moisture at several depths gives the growers at Chiawana Orchards the ability to produce maximum crop yields while maximizing long-term crop health and vegetation. The amount of water and nutrients a plant receives directly correlates to the crops health, produce production, and its susceptibility to pests and diseases. Maintaining the appropriate balance between these two is an incredibly difficult task to accomplish, but through the data provided by innov8.ag and our closely related sensor partners, we now have the ability to give growers precise calculations on the soil moisture and nutrients received by your plants across blocks.
Through the use of both drone and satellite imagery, innov8.ag and our partners strive to give this Smart Orchard frequent qualitative & quantitative imagery. Sharing this orchard satellite imagery allows the growers to directly see which portions of their orchard are being affected by weather and even where they are suffering from water loss. Having drone fly overs gives them the opportunity to allocate where pest and disease damage has been occurring, as well as gain a high degree of image granularity (cm/pixel for drone vs m/pixel for satellite). Finally, the satellite & drone imagery will be analyzed in conjunction with lidar data from sprayer provider Smart Guided Systems, which delineates tree canopy height/width/volume - opening the door to optimizing management down to the tree level.
As part of this project, we're deeply engaging with growers. An example of this is in the below video hosted by WSU, Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, & innov8 Ag. Please stay tuned for many more updates and correlating videos from our time well spent on the Smart Orchard Project. We've been learning a tremendous amount and we are more than thrilled to share our adventures with you!
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