Aussie orchard embraces agtech innovation
Fruit Forest Farms grows fifteen varieties of tropical exotic fruit on 20ha of their 90ha farmland, just a few hours north of Townsville. Warren Orsmond is learning the business from his father-in-law, Peter Salleras, and will eventually take over managing the farm. Winner of ‘From the Earth’ delicious Harvey Norman Produce Awards 2020, Fruit Forest Farms have made room for new ideas. They specifically saw an opportunity to use technology to support orchard management, which led Mr Orsmond to uncover Farmable.
Orchard Management for the Whole Team
Fruit Forest Farms specialises in growing fruits that aren’t considered standard by many people. When growing specialty varieties, it’s rare to find the necessary agronomy knowledge you would normally expect to find for more commonly grown fruit. Ask a Queensland horticulturist about a crop of mangoes or bananas and you’ll get a wealth of advice; very few are able to give input on growing sapodillas, rollinias, or santols.
Farmable is on a mission to reinvent how farmers gather, organise and use their data by offering a user-friendly orchard management app to manage crop treatments, field observations and harvest records across a farming team. It is accessible for all five of the permanent staff at Fruit Forest Farms plus any extras that are hired when it gets busy. Since the app is available on both Apple and Android devices, it gives flexibility to workers on the farm who could work with the app on their own smartphone or tablet.
The field notes capability allows essential information to be communicated easily within the team. Mr Orsmond is able to manage the team by assigning different jobs to each team member, who can then enable GPS tracking via their phone to offer real time progress tracking of job completion.
Data Management for the Long Term
Mr Orsmond, like many growers, has been in need of an orchard management system to aid in tracking field notes, fertiliser usage, soil and leaf testing, and chemical applications. With use over time, Farmable will allow quick access to historical seasonal variations and a complete record of past crop treatments.
It’s the ease and robustness of building the knowledge repository and transmission that makes Farmable exciting. Mr Orsmond can also see Farmable working with technologies likely to come on-board in the future such as drones and in-field sensors. One place to manage all of this data will be convenient for the team at the farm.
For Growers, by Growers
Mr Orsmond said, “This is the first time I picked up an app and downloaded it and said, “Yup, this is the one.” It quickly became clear that the app was intuitive to the needs of horticulture growers. Lars Petter Blikom, CEO and a Co-Founder of Farmable as well as Co-Owner of Norway’s largest fruit farm, built the Farmable app after realising that there is no right tool for the needs of fruit and tree crop growers.
“We love to see different types of horticulture producers on the platform. The fact that both a Norwegian apple grower and an Australian durian grower can benefit from the product, supports our belief that there is space in the market for a global agtech product, exclusively for horticulture,” responds Mr Blikom on hearing Mr Orsmond’s experience with the app.
Taking a departure from the usual agtech products that are sometimes unnecessarily complex, or offer services that are not relevant to horticulture growers, user feedback is at the core to Farmable’s way of working. The team actively solicits suggestions and feature requests from their user base of growers and advisors.