Dairy cows have ear tags. What do trees have? Enter Fruitminder!

Seb Chapman
min read
October 23, 2023

In the fast-evolving world of Ag technology, real-time data and automation like the Monarch Tractor are transforming how we manage and sustain our food sources. That's why we developed Fruitminder, a platform designed to monitor and analyses fruit crop conditions and organise the complexity of a commercial orchard. This is achieved in a way similarly to how dairy cows have RFID ear tags that hold all their genetic history and medical history. Fruiminder achieves this by giving every tree a digital twin and linking that with a combination of GPS virtual tags and QR codes.

When Forest Lodge Orchard approached us with the challenge of managing their orchard more efficiently and giving them more actionable data to make the crucial business decisions needed to be profitable, we jumped right in!

The Challenge

Mike Casey, Forest Lodge Orchard owner, prior to getting into horticulture came from running his own company in Sydney, where he used data to make decisions on the daily. When setting up the orchard, he quickly realised he had little to no data available to make decisions from.

The Solution

Fruitminder is a mobile-first data collection tool, enabling seamless integration with the real world and real-time analytics all in the palm of the grower's hand. Some key features include phenotyping metrics, tracking of events like sprays or pruning, and having a GPS-based analytics dashboard for finding out all of your aggregates such as average bud count for the cherry variety, sweetheart.

Metric insights screen showing census trees
Find tree by GPS feature allows users to walk through their orchard and find the tree they're standing next to using the phone GPS

Development Process

With the backing of Forest Lodge Orchard and a little help from MPI SFFF we started development and deployed the first version of the software in the summer of 2022. The app went through a huge amount of iterations, uncovering challenges with GPS capabilities, challenges with delivering an orchard's worth of data to a phone in a reasonable time, and general cross-platform issues. The ability to deploy quickly to Forest Lodge Orchard drastically increased the pace of development! In one season with one developer we have built a whole system to manage an orchard effectively and intuitively, really focusing on building tools that growers love to use! Now in the spring of 2023, we have a stable app that works across platforms, half a dozen beta customers using the app and are turning our eyes to the next steps forward! We are now opening the software up to more growers - contact seb@fruitminder.com for details.

Future Plans

The next steps for what this platform can do are very exciting! - Because we started from the fundamentals when designing the system, we have a lot of flexibility. The next steps involve integrations with spray diaries, weather stations and smart irrigation systems. There is also some really exciting work out of the University of Canterbury that we are working with. The UC-Vision team has developed a camera bar that can be mounted on a tractor or an autonomous robot. This camera bar takes images of the tree from multiple viewpoints, and uses them to reconstruct the tree in 3D, with such levels of detail that you can see spider webs or aphids! From there they can run computer vision algorithms over the data and detect traits about the plants. They have done a scan of one of Fruitminder's beta customers to track the number of uprights on the plants, from which the data will be sent to Fruitminder for the grower to use - either by picking up the trees on an individual level to inspect how the growth of the tree compares to the current state (all on the mobile app in the field!) Or by getting the aggregates on the insights page, to compare varieties, tree age etc. with the measurable growth tracked by the vision system! 

The Monarch Tractor with The UC-Vision Camera bar mounted on the side for data collection.
The UC-Vision segmentation for counting uprights per tree at Fruitminder beta customer - Quantum Orchard.

The plan going forward is to get all the variables that have an effect on the productivity of the plant into one system and give growers the tools to understand that data, and have accurate probabilistic predictions of outcomes based on the business decisions made.

Public app release spots now open

If you're facing similar challenges in your agricultural operations and are curious about how technology can help, we'd love to hear from you. Get in touch with us to learn more about Fruitminder and how it can revolutionise your orchard management. - call or email Seb - 027 408 7233, seb@fruitminder.com

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