Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

Features Production Research
Mobile technology to help farmers predict harvest


September 5, 2012
By Press release

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September 4, 2012 – PepsiCo and Cambridge University have joined forces to introduce mobile technology to crop planning, with a new smartphone app that will help farmers predict future harvests.

The app, which has been trialed across 46 UK potato fields, works by photographing and analyzing the potato leaf canopy to accurately predict crop development.

Last year, PepsiCo co-developed i-crop™ – a system that helps farmers to measure and reduce their overall water usage by collecting and calculating information about crops, such as soil moisture levels. The new app will improve the ease, speed and quality of the canopy data fed into i-crop, making it easier for farmers to track the development of all types of crops across the UK.

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Initial trials of i-crop are already proving the potential of the technology, with a 13 per cent increase in crop yield and eight per cent reduction in water usage across 46 of PepsiCo’s UK potato farms. By providing precision information about crops, such as soil moisture levels, farmers can judge exactly how much water to use – thus reducing wastage, boosting harvests and saving money.

“This investment by PepsiCo is helping me to transform the way I farm,” said Robin Griffiths who grows potatoes for PespsiCo. “Previously, my harvest estimates were based on manual measurements and a fair amount of guesswork, but now we can get an accurate calculation simply by taking a phone into the field. Similarly, i-crop gives me the information I need to judge exactly how much water to use on my crops, reducing my wastage and saving me money.”

PepsiCo has also been one of the first companies to use Cool Farm Tool – a carbon calculator developed by the University of Aberdeen – which has enabled farmers to readily assess their carbon emissions, and to model different scenarios and strategies for reducing their footprints further. The company is also currently trialing a number of other sustainability initiatives with its UK farmers, such as identifying and using low carbon fertilizers.