New potato app helps with crop management and yield data

A new potato-specific smartphone app has been developed to help growers improve crop management and marketing decisions right through the supply chain.

Developed by Produce Investments group – which includes firms such as Greenvale AP, the Crop4Sight app’s first key feature improves understanding of how crop development will impact on marketable yield.

Many growers will start the season with a planned tonnage from each field, but environmental factors have the potential to throw those plans into disarray.

See also: Are 100t/ha potato crops possible?

Armed with the Crop4Sight app, users enter observational data on crop emergence and canopy development and the system calculates yield potential and absorbed radiation.

Crop performance

These factors are then combined with varietal traits, the commercial purpose of the crop – fresh, processing or seed? – and yield dig data to present a benchmark of how a crop is performing.

Crop4Sight app from Greenvale AP

  • Paid-for crop monitoring app developed for potato growers
  • Accurately predicts crop output based on in-season development
  • Helps improve timing of desiccation to optimise marketable yield
  • Better informs marketing decisions right through the supply chain
  • Ups efficiency/accuracy of yield sampling when combined with Bluetooth scales

This gives growers and agronomists an insight into the commercial implications of the season, allowing them to adjust output expectations and optimise burn-off timings for maximum marketable yield.

Crop4Sight’s advantages extend up the supply chain, too, with packers and processors such as Greenvale able to monitor the likely supply volumes of specific varieties within their portfolio.

This allows them react to a shortfall or oversupply of a particular line and manage the expectations of retailer or processor customers accordingly.

Yield digs

Yield digs and size grading to monitor what is happening in potato ridges can be a tough, laborious task and, typically, wide size bands are used to speed the job up, compromising accuracy.

The second key function of the Crop4Sight app will address these issues by connecting to Bluetooth-enabled scales, which in combination weigh and record the weight of each tuber at the dig location.

During the process, it will also identify tubers suitable for dry matter tests – which require a representative sample of a similar size – to take away.

This means carrying a sample of just 1-2kg back to the farm vehicle, with the remainder re-buried in the ridge.

This function will speed up the sampling process, reduce labour requirement and improve the accuracy of the data gathered for better-informed decisions, such as burn-off date.

Final testing

Crop4Sight also includes access to Niab Cuf’s yield modelling service should users wish to use it, with data inputted into the model and ad output displayed on its website.

A work diary that alerts users on which outstanding data collection jobs need completing and a “Crop Milestones” section that summarises crop growth and yield data.

Greenvale’s research manager Robert Allen says the pay-for app – which is available on iOS and Android operating systems – is designed to require minimal data input from growers or agronomists, placing less burden at a busy time.

“Crop4Sight will be launched for final beta testing in 2019 and anybody interested in taking part should contact us for terms and conditions,” he adds.

Those taking part in the trial will be provided with a specific set of Bluetooth scales for sampling, but after full launch in 2020, a list of approved devices will be provided.

Pricing has yet to be determined, but Mr Allen says it will be competitive and further developments in functionality are planned to provide further value for the user.