Inspired Ag’s harvesting solutions find favour

Inspired Ag is the brainchild of fifth generation orchardists from Victoria’s Goulburn Valley who decided to develop and source products aimed at horticulturalists.

Inspired Ag’s COO – Catriona Saunders – said the business was an example of farmers working to help other farmers to solve the conundrums that only someone else in the industry could truly understand.

“We bring together all sorts of innovative equipment to assist horticultural businesses whether that be pome, stone, citrus or grapes,” she said. “Some examples are BILLO platforms that assist growers to harvest or prune their trees; and Olmi leaf removers that promote red apple colouring.”

Given the critical labour shortages that Australian farmers are experiencing, she said the Inspired Ag team are seeing a lot of interest in labour-saving equipment such as platforms.

“Our customers are seeing incremental savings from the BILLO platforms not only in harvest but year-round. Our orchardists are finding that platforms deliver a really quick return on investment and are looking to add more to their fleet in coming seasons,” Ms Saunders said.

A newer piece of technology that also saves on labour – the leaf remover – is gaining traction in Australia following success in the US and NZ markets. The remover is being used in the apple industry about 10–14 days before harvest to remove leaves that are covering apples, exposing them to light.

“For optimal results, orchardists are using the Olmi followed by our ExtraSun reflective matting to get fantastic colouring,” Ms Saunders said. Leaf removers are also being used by both vineyards and table grape growers throughout their growing season.

One of the main focusses of Inspired Ag is providing the hail netting that goes over the top of the orchards to protect the fruit from the elements and reduce water use.

“Our nets are really high-quality retractable netting which has been designed by our head of R&D – Corey Beecroft to suit the Australian climate,” Ms Saunders said.

“We go to the orchard and measure up each block; then get the netting made-to order by our manufacturers. Orchardists save on project costs and it gives them the flexibility to work around blocks that aren’t symmetrical.”

Ms Saunders said the company has developed a complementary steel structure system to support the netting. These same steel structures can also be used for trellising.

The steel self-installation element is key – reducing the spend for the grower.

“We provide an instruction manual for self-installation and drawings of the orchard with the bespoke steel structure design from a draftsman, so it’s all mapped out ready for the orchard team to follow.”

Netting can also be installed by installers, supported by the Inspired Ag team.

Global supply chain issues continue to impact all industries, with the agricultural machinery segment not being spared. Ms Saunders said orchardists need to forward-plan well in advance their equipment needs to ensure they land in Australia in time for harvest or other critical activity periods.

“The team at Inspired Ag are here to help,” Ms Saunders said. “Orchardists can get in touch with the team to discuss their future equipment investments and how the growing Inspired Ag range can meet their needs.”

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