Nick Parris from ACN orchards discusses a new technology to measure fruit quality and maturity on trees before harvest as a part of a Horticulture Innovation Fund from the Victorian Government.
A.C.N. Orchards in partnership with Rubens Technologies is using the Horticulture Innovation Fund to develop and validate prototype instruments that assess and monitor stone and pome fruit non-destructively. This technology will be designed to provide a cost-effective solution for pre- and post-harvest fruit and add value to the entire fruit value chain, by
- reducing variability pre-harvest,
- reducing losses by monitoring the quality of the stored fruit, and
- increasing the overall consistency of the products to meet consumer demands.
The technology will be composed of a line of sensors and analytic software, designed and optimised to cover the entire fruit value chain. The operation of all sensors will be based on the spectral monitoring of chlorophyll fluorescence to assess fruit maturity and colour non-destructively.
Dr Daniel Pelliccia, developer of prototype technology for fruit quality management, discusses a new hand held sensor, developed for Pome and Stonefruit, as part of a Horticulture Innovation Fund from the Victorian Government.
Sensor 1 will be a hand-held sensor to be used in conjunction with a smartphone app, that will enable pre-harvest maturity monitoring and enable harvest prediction based on spectral data and other parameters (such as GPS localisation). This sensor will help reducing fruit variability by identifying and picking fruit at the optimal harvest time for the chosen market.
Sensor 2 will be specifically designed to monitor conditions of fruit in real time during cold storage, especially during long term period required by pome fruit. The sensor will be based on the same principle of spectral monitoring, and will comprise a real-time monitor and alert system to timely alert about changing ripening conditions of stored fruit. This sensor will improve fruit quality management and reduce waste by monitoring fruit ripening progression. These data can then be used to determine optimal storage length given the fruit initial conditions.
Sensor 3 will be designed for the graders and packing lines. This system will enable fruit segregation before packing and distribution and can be used in conjunction with currently available NIR systems for Brix. Segregation of fruit based on similar maturity will allow for increased consumption and return buying by reducing fruit variability, which is one of the main consumer complaints. This will also further reduce losses by deciding the market of choice based on fruit maturity at packing and associated shelf life length.