Jul 9, 2024
Machine learning tool helping improve potato packing performance

A prominent Prince Edward Island potato grower has partnered with a machine learning crop insights tool to improve packing line performance.

G Visser & Sons is using HarvestEye to monitor the size, shape and variability of potatoes on a line which processes 500,000 pounds of produce a week, according to a news release. The system aims to improve grading quality control, complementing manual work done by sorters on the conveyer belt.

HarvestEye delivers visibility via an online portal on root crop harvests, including potatoes and onions, according to the release. The technology, produced by United Kingdom-based HarvestEye Ltd., can be fitted to grading equipment and harvest machinery and includes a handheld system that can be used for in-field test digs.

G Visser & Sons is using HarvestEye to monitor the size, shape and variability of potatoes on a line which processes 500,000 pounds of produce a week. Photos courtesy of HarvestEye.

Harry Tinson, general manager at HarvestEye, said the partnership with G Visser & Sons provides an opportunity to understand how the tool can benefit the fresh produce market.

“It enables us to broaden our understanding of how HarvestEye can support growers, packers and processors, particularly in respect to the challenges pertinent to PEI and other North American potato growing regions — from rich red soils unique to the island to tough conditions amid fluctuating temperature ranges,” Tinson said in the release. “Having visited the G Visser & Sons team to begin our partnership, we saw a tremendous opportunity to forge a lasting relationship as the business looks to innovate its operations while remaining true to its family values of sustainable farming.”

Adam Jay, chief operating officer at G Visser & Sons, said the company attempted to develop its own optical system before discovering HarvestEye at Fruit Logistica in Berlin in February.

“While we proudly rely on human intuition with our team of quality sorters, we were looking to implement a system that could provide a passive real-time monitoring tool to more quantifiably evaluate shrink, reducing the impact of potential human errors — such as how fatigue can lead to inconsistent performance,” Jay said.

Jay said G Visser & Sons has found HarvestEye’s daily data reporting insightful.

“It is a tool that we believe can help us continue to provide the high-quality products that our customers require and the data to help ensure that we optimize the return for the grower of each lot of potatoes,”  he said.

G Visser & Sons plans to use HarvestEye on more packing lines as well as with harvesting machinery and to help forecast crop yield and size, according to the release.

“PEI is integral to the North American potato industry, and by building relationships with established growers such as G Visser & Sons, who have a deep-rooted understanding of the growing landscape, we can continue to innovate the hardware and software elements of our product to offer even more bespoke support to customers,” said Vidyanath Gururajan, HarvestEye managing director.

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