Global UAV Technologies Ltd., Jöst Vineyards, VineView (Scientific Aerial Imaging Inc.) and a major Canadian telecommunications company recently completed a 4G proof-of-concept mission in in Malagash, N.S., to demonstrate a real-word application of drone technology for a project called the “Digital Vineyard of the Future.”
“Fine wine making is in the growing of grapes with specific qualities, where many variables have to be taken into consideration,” said Jonathan Rodwell, director of viticulture and winemaking for Jöst Vineyards. “We see these emerging technologies offering excellent opportunities for integrated measurement and management of our vineyards and focus on precision viticulture.” | For the full story, CLICK HERE.
ETwater’s patented technology integrates data science, machine learning and predictive analytics about weather forecast and environmental variables to automatically, optimally adjust site-specific irrigation schedules. Connecting over the Internet, ETwater smart controllers get their schedules through secure, cellular data networks, and users are able to remotely monitor and manage controllers from any mobile or smart device.
“We’re very proud of the positive impact on outdoor water conservation we’ve had in the U.S. market and raising awareness to the necessity of irrigating in harmony with nature,” said Pat McIntyre, CEO of ETwater. “The Jain acquisition will expand ETwater efficiencies throughout the U.S. and now worldwide to become a gold standard in sustainable water management globally.”
“Jain is an early leader in the IoT for agriculture,” said Aric Olson, president of Jain Irrigation, Inc. “ETwater will improve our position in agriculture and helps us make a bigger impact in reducing water waste in landscape irrigation."
“We are thrilled to have ETwater join our family. After several successful irrigation technology acquisitions, the addition of ETwater … adds key technologies that can be deployed globally to our growing technology customer base.”
Shipping cherries overseas is a high stakes game – every container carries approximately $100,000 of fruit. International consumers are becoming increasingly picky and buyers will only accept high quality cherries at port. Growers and packers are making it a top priority to ensure cherries make the journey in top form, impressing both international buyers and consumers.
Fortunately, advances in science are making it possible to measure cherries’ quality while they are still hanging on the tree, without damaging any in the process.
A team of researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Summerland is working with mobile hand-held optical spectrometers to develop models to precisely gauge the quality of cherries, and predict their firmness and flavour after storage or shipping.
The research team
Dr. Peter Toivonen leads the Postharvest Physiology program at AAFC’s Summerland Research and Development Centre, which includes research technician Brenda Lannard and biologist Changwen Lu.
Together, they are fine-tuning models using specific commercial spectrometers to make this technology useful for Canadian cherry producers.
The team is determining the best values for fruit quality and storability for cherry varieties, including Lapins, Staccato, Sweetheart and many others that are grown commercially.
The work includes fine-tuning and expanding the use of the technology by developing specific protocols for working under a variety of conditions while ensuring consistent and meaningful readings.
The team is also working to identify any limitations to the technology before transferring it to end-users. As with other technologies, users – most likely skilled quality assurance or field service staff – will need training before putting these devices to work in the field. Working with industry to properly implement the technology will be the key to success.
What is the impact to growers?
Using hand-held spectrometers, in combination with knowledge generated from Dr. Toivonen’s research, will give cherry growers precise data on their crop’s ‘best before’ date.
“Being able to reliably measure the maturity and quality of cherries, without sacrificing any of that crop to sampling, will save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on container shipment claims for the industry,” estimates Dr. Toivonen.
Consumers’ expectations are high and if Canadian growers can improve their reputation for consistent high quality and flavour, the industry will benefit. Growers could see a 10-20% increase on returns thanks to improved consistency in quality.
“People are doing this work in other countries. If we are not part of it, we are behind,” advises Dr. Toivonen. Luckily, his team is working to keep the industry on the leading edge and consumers happy.
A closer look at the science: Q&A with Dr. Toivonen
What are optical spectrometers?
An optical spectrometer is a scientific instrument that emits light and measures how much of that light reflects back to the instrument. You hold the device against a cherry, it shines light on the surface of the intact fruit, and it measures the amount of light of each wavelength reflected back. The reflected light depends on the chemical composition of the fruit. Spectrometers were once cumbersome pieces of equipment, suited only for laboratory use, but now they are designed specifically for use in orchards.
What is dry matter?
Dry matter is what’s left in the fruit after all the water is removed. In cherries, dry matter is equivalent to sugar content, and is a good indicator of ripeness, quality after storage and flavour.
A grower who knows the dry matter content of their cherries can determine how well that fruit will do in storage, and decide which fruit to sell immediately and which to store or ship internationally. In short, using dry matter to make decisions on storage, shipping and market selection could lead to a consistent supply of crisp and delicious cherries from Canadian growers.
How do you measure dry matter?
The ‘old fashioned way’ of measuring dry matter isn’t practical for an orchard operation. You cut fruit into thin slices, weigh it and bake it at 60oC in an oven for two to three days until all the water is removed, then weigh it again. Your sample size is limited by oven space, samples are tedious to process, and valuable time is lost waiting for results. That could mean missing the best time for harvesting and shipping your cherries.
After the team completes validation of the scientific models for commercial spectrometers, growers will have a tool that can produce instant dry matter readings on as much fruit as needed without damaging any of it.
The distributor handles fruit, vegetables and foodstuffs from 22 countries, at zero to 55 Fahrenheit temperatures, in its facility that provides retailers with wireless, real-time inventory and access.
In order to keep such continued growth on track, effective operation has required the use of rugged drive-in rack, designed to the application, according to Rob Wharry, the facility’s director of operations.
“About 150 to 200 truckloads of product move in and out of our storage everyday – about 25,000 pallets – so the drive-in rack needs to be very durable and accessible,” says Wharry. “The product has to go out quickly and efficiently to grocery stores, club stores, distribution centers, and the food service industry.”
Drive-in racks enable storing of up to 75 per cent more pallets than selective rack and are ideal for high-traffic and cooler/freezer installations. With drive-in rack, forklifts drive directly into the rack to allow storage of two or more pallets deep.
But because forklifts drive directly into the rack, they tend to take more abuse than other rack structures. In cooler and freezer applications, the rack must withstand forklift abuse due to the confined space, slick surfaces, and cold temperatures that slow driver reflexes and make impact more frequent.
“We’re in and out of rack with heavy pallets and equipment so many times a day,” says Wharry. “It’s a fact of life that sometimes forklifts will run into the rack, so it just needs to be able to stand up to the daily use.”
Looking to optimize the rack’s durability and operation, the cold chain distributor turned to Steel King Industries, a storage system and pallet rack manufacturer. In the most recent expansion, about 4,000 pallets of refrigerated storage capacity were added. For this, Manfredi Cold Storage chose SK3000 pallet rack, a bolted rack with structural channel columns.
A number of rack features are helping the distributor to meet its strength, durability, and maintenance goals.
Compared to typical racking, the pallet rack constructed of hot-rolled structural channel column with full horizontal and diagonal bracing offers greater frame strength, durability and cross-sectional area. All Grade-5 hardware provides greater shear strength, and a heavy seven-gauge wrap-around connector plate ensures a square and plumb installation with a tighter connection and greater moment resistance.
The drive-in rack also includes a number of features that enhance ease-of-use and safety.
The drive-in load rail construction includes: structural angle rails that “guide” pallets for ease of use; flared rail entry ends to allow easy bay access; space-saver low profile arms that increase clearance and decrease possible product damage; welded aisle-side load arms that eliminate hazardous load projections into aisles; welded rail stops that prevent loads from being pushed off and increase safety; and two-inch vertical adjustability of the bolted rack, which allows for a variety of configurations for current or future products.
“The heavy rub rail inside the rack helps to guide the pallets in,” says Wharry. “The flared rail entry makes it easier to put pallets in and to take them out of the upper positions.”
For extra protection and reinforcement against forklift impact, a guard on the front of the rack’s first upright was added. The double column, welded angle column protector is designed for heavy pallets and provides additional strength.
According to Wharry, the vendor was also willing to accommodate their needs in other ways as well.
“Our operation is a little different than a typical storage customer because we’re dealing with lots of different sized products, so we had a very specific design in mind,” says Wharry. “Everything is specific to our application – rack height, width, pallet loads, and how we utilize it.”
The rack openings are about 12- to 16-inches taller than a standard rack opening to allow the use of very tall pallets, he says. Additional adjustments to the rack include the specific implementation of guards, heavy rail, and how it is anchored to the floor.
With continuing growth expected, Manfredi Cold Storage is already planning to start the construction of a new facility in southern New Jersey.
“When the new facility is constructed, the racking set up will be just like what we have here,” concludes Wharry. “We’ve determined what works for us and our customers, and
Complementing the company's onsite unreserved auctions and online-only auctions through IronPlanet, Marketplace-E offers sellers increased control over price, location, and timing, while providing buyers access to more equipment available to purchase right away.
"With the launch of Marketplace-E we can now serve customers as a true one-stop shop, with a complete suite of selling solutions to meet every need," said Ravi Saligram, CEO of Ritchie Bros. "We have many customers who, for a variety of reasons, need more control over the selling price and process of their assets. With Marketplace-E they will get the control they need while still benefiting from Ritchie Bros.' marketing and expansive global buyer network."
Ravi continued, "Marketplace-E will also open up new customer opportunities for Ritchie Bros. In our quest to lead the industry in innovation; we are constantly looking for new ways to improve the asset disposition experience. Developing a sleek, user-friendly digital platform expands the options available to OEMs, dealers, brokers and end users."
How Marketplace-E works – three selling options:
- Make Offer: List equipment online and let potential buyers submit offers, then negotiate with potential buyers to reach an agreement.
- Buy Now: List equipment online at a fixed, buy-it-now price; like a basic ecommerce transaction. Once the item is purchased, the listing is closed.
- Reserve Price: An online listing with a minimum/reserve price. The item will not sell until the reserve is met. The seller minimum is protected, but the potential highest selling price is not capped.
For more information about Marketplace-E, visit ironplanet.com/Marketplace-E.
The program is ideal for all farming applications, including livestock, greenhouse and vineyards. Upgrading to a high-efficiency pump will improve performance and could save customers up to 40 per cent of their system's energy costs.
"This energy conservation program is focused on helping our agricultural customers manage their electricity and water usage all while saving money," said Cindy-Lynn Steele, vice president, Market Solutions, Hydro One. "As Ontario's largest electricity provider to farming customers, we are committed to offering a variety of energy solutions to help them save on electricity and invest in programs that will meet their important needs while delivering a positive return to their bottom line."
"This collaborative approach with IESO and Hydro One allowed us to be very innovative with this new program," says Niagara Peninsula Energy Inc. CEO and president Brian Wilkie. "We're happy to be able to cater to the agricultural sector and provide this instant rebate program on high efficiency pump sets with advanced control technology."
"Water conservation and high energy costs are a big concern for farmers in the Niagara region and across the province," said Drew Spoelstra, director for Halton, Hamilton-Wentworth, Niagara North and Niagara South, Ontario Federation of Agriculture. "The Save on Energy Conservation Program and this type of cross-utility initiative to launch the AgriPump Rebate Program is great for agriculture."
To be eligible for a rebate under the program, each kit must be between 0.5 hp and 10 hp and must comprise of a pump, motor, variable frequency drive and accessories. Customers can receive up to $610 per constant pressure pump kit. The pumps are quick and easy to install and guard against wear and tear.
The AgriPump Rebate Program is only available to agriculture customers in Hydro One and Niagara Peninsula Energy Inc. (NPEI) service territories. The instant rebate is fulfilled at the point of purchase.
To learn more and participate in the AgriPump Rebate program, visit: www.agripump.ca
As it did with Land Pride in 2017, KCL is thrilled to now be able to offer innovative, durable and high-performance Great Plains equipment to farmers across Quebec and Atlantic Canada at their local Kubota dealerships.
“Everything we’ve done over the past years has been geared towards customer satisfaction and brand loyalty,” said Bob Hickey, president of KCL. “That’s what drove us to not only expand our product line through acquisitions such as Great Plains Manufacturing, but also invest in our distribution network, so that current and potential clients could access an expanded range of high-quality products when the time came to invest in their farm equipment.”
The TerraSentia crop phenotyping robot, developed by a team of scientists at the University of Illinois, was featured at the 2018 Energy Innovation Summit Technology Showcase in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 14.
Traveling autonomously between crop rows, the robot measures the traits of individual plants using a variety of sensors, including cameras, transmitting the data in real time to the operator’s phone or laptop computer. A custom app and tablet computer that come with the robot enable the operator to steer the robot using virtual reality and GPS. For the full story, CLICK HERE.
The Honourable Wayne Easter, Member of Parliament for Malpeque, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), today announced federal support to expand the processing facility at Thompson Potato Company.
A repayable contribution of $350,000, provided through ACOA’s Business Development Program, will help the company build a new state-of-the-art ventilated storage expansion onto its facility in Victoria, and install optical sorting equipment.
This investment builds on commitments made by the Government of Canada and the four Atlantic provinces to drive economic growth in the region through the Atlantic Growth Strategy, which supports strategic investments in initiatives that build on the region’s competitive advantages, such as its thriving agriculture industry, strong export potential, growing innovation network, and skilled workforce.
“The storage upgrades and new optical equipment are essential to our plan for long-term, sustainable growth at Thompson Potato, and we are grateful for the repayable support from ACOA that helps us to make these investments now. The latest steps give us the capacity to better serve growers across PEI, access new export markets, and expand employment opportunities with our company,” said Wayne Thompson, Thompson Potato Company Inc.
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International Fruit Tree Association 2019 Annual ConferenceSun Feb 24, 2019 @ 8:00am - 05:00pm
Ontario Bean Growers Annual General MeetingTue Feb 26, 2019
Central Ontario Agricultural Conference Thu Feb 28, 2019