Deploying big data in the vegetable processing sector

Vegetable processor Bonduelle, In-Green Valley Food Cooperative and the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers are collaborating on a project to improve the inter-connectedness of data gathered, according to a news release of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, which is funding the work.


Bonduelle uses AgPOD, a system it created to collect traceability information as well as manage seeds and contracts. But the system can no longer process all the additional data that is now being collected.


The availability of low-cost sensors means location-specific field data related to wind speed, air and soil temperature, rainfall, soil moisture, soil and tissue nutrient levels, insect trap counts and more can continuously be collected and transmitted in real time. Drone technology enables location-specific assessments of field conditions including hot spots where pest or disease pressures can be observed and tracked. More farm equipment now tracks seeding rates, spray applications and harvest yields correlated to GPS locations.


“All of those pieces aren’t fitting well within our current system and we also don’t have a phone-based app for our in-field staff or connectivity on-the-go,” explains Jennifer Thompson, agriculture manager at Bonduelle in Ingersoll. She adds that there is also a need to be proactive so that the industry can meet future requirements for traceability and block chain system integration.


Bonduelle is working with DoubleLeaf Development on a new system to enable complete traceability from final product right back to the field, including everything from contracting to crop history such as planting, scouting, spraying, nutrient application and record verification.


“Inter-connectivity is the current theme in precision agriculture, so if we can open some pathways to other systems, that will make growers’ lives easier,” says Rob Parkhill of DoubleLeaf Development.


This means, for example, a grower can enter their crop protection application information right into the sprayer, which sends it to the cloud from where Bonduelle will incorporate it into their system. This reduces duplication, boosts the accuracy of the collected information, and ultimately, will make growers more efficient, according to Parkhill.


The project includes creation of a central hub that can receive data from different inputs and have the ability to organize and store the data. It will be inter-connected to retrieve data from various sources and its mobile solution will enable on-the-go connectivity.


“This will let growers use precision ag information, which will be industry-leading in North America – in vegetables, no one is doing what we are doing,” says Thompson.


A truck tracking system will help ensure processing production flows smoothly, as well as reducing emissions. Tracking crop protection application will not only boost food safety, but it will also make crop scouting activities safer for field staff if they know what products were applied and when. The new system will also be based on geography to enable field-level decision making; the inclusion of weather information will provide added value to both Bonduelle and growers.


“All the produce we process is grown here in Ontario and this system will help us build better relationships with growers and partners,” says Thompson. “It’s a step in the right direction for customer service.”   

System-wide connectivity is expected by 2020.

Source:  Adaptation Agricultural Council March 18, 2019 news release

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Publish date: 
Monday, March 18, 2019

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