Australia’s Bartle Frere Bananas use IoT and data to improve banana traceability


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“If you can track a cow, you can track anything,” Gavin Devaney, owner and CEO of Bartle Frere Bananas, told ZDNet. That’s why for the past two years he has rolled out sensors and relied on data to improve the overall operation of his 250-acre banana farm in North Queensland, including ensuring it meets management best practices.

On-site at Bartle Frere Bananas, weather monitoring stations and soil moisture sensors are designed to help control section-by-section irrigation levels within each fold, as well as solar-powered, inline nitrate sensors that regulate fertilizer use, monitor sediment and reduce nitrate runoff.

Devaney explained that working with Hitachi Vantara to install these sensors has allowed him to measure the size of the fruit and understand the potential impact that the weather has on his crops.

“We go through a process of seeing the effects of seasons and how bananas grow because, yes, we know that different seasons affect the degree of filling of bananas and production, but this gives us the actual micromeasure,” he said.

The sensors have also helped identify areas where Devaney was underwater.

“Where I thought I was probably a flood user, it was not; I was underwater … and I can see it on the crop,” he said. “I have not looked back since. I have done what I have done; it changed the way I had watered and where I thought I could wait a little longer after the rain – and I could do whatever I did. had to do – but no, no, no, I had to be more in front of it and not behind it to be able to water properly. “

A supply chain tracking system has been another addition to the farm’s operation. The farm is currently being tested, and has inserted radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, coded with a unique identification number, to track and trace the fruit from farm to market.

RFID tags are attached to each bundle of bananas in the fold, which according to Devaney makes them easier to locate when ready to be packed in sacks.

“It works to our advantage to control the traffic … because if only 20 bells come out that week … my baker has to go out and find the 20 bundles in a 10-hectare fold, so instead of driving up and down every row … we are able to turn around, give him the location of a bunch in that fold, “he said.

Once the clusters are sorted in the yard of the yard, another Bluetooth barcode is put on the pallet to track the movement, temperature and GPS location of the containers all the way to the stores. Being able to track and track the fruit means better quality assurance, Devaney said.

“Looking back at what happened to the strawberry industry, I will never ever end up in the process where… due to something that happened to part of our farm and I could not figure out where the problem had come from… [we] maybe have to get rid of millions of dollars of fruit, “he said.

The smart farm project was established between Bartle Frere Bananas and Hitachi Vantara with support from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, Hort Innovation, as well as Horticultural Research, Australian Banana Grower’s Council, AusVeg and more.

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