Data tells all, and some fruit and vegetable growers are turning to real-time tracking software to help them streamline day-to-day business operations.
With ever-increasing pressure to improve on-farm traceability, such software might prove useful to more than just Canadian growers. Cloud-based monitoring systems such as Croptracker – created by Dragonfly IT, a software company based in Kingston, Ontario – are being used by farmers to monitor all growing practices throughout the season.
From pesticide application to employee activity, the system helps growers pinpoint where costs are coming from, investigate the sources of those costs, and more effectively allocate resources.
Accessible wherever an internet or mobile data connection exists, the system can, for instance, monitor how good or bad the harvest was at different times and from different parts of a given farm.
By identifying exactly when and where yield differences were apparent, growers can better determine the causes of those discrepancies.
The cloud-based system can also help manage employee costs by tracking work time and specific activities. By being able to see how long it takes to perform different tasks, growers can pinpoint where their costs are coming from, and if necessary, investigate why.
Perhaps most notable, though, are the potential traceability improvements provided by such monitoring systems. The ability to monitor a crop from cradle to grave – on a micro and macro scale – can provide an additional edge in preventing potential food safety issues. And, if issues do arise, it can help determine the source.
That’s up to and potentially including what part of the field the product came from, and what employee harvested it.
The Croptracker system itself isn’t a unique idea – it’s actually an amalgamation of other, more commodity-specific systems also developed by Dragonfly IT. By combining Fruit Tracker, Apple Tracker, Nursery Tracker and several other systems, the company has tried to make an all-encompassing sustainability product suitable for any food fruit and vegetable producer.
While most users are Canadian, growers from as far afield as New Zealand have shown interest in the system – and that could be a good thing. Crops are traded globally, after all, and anything that improves traceability while improving on-farm efficiency might be worth pursuing.