Camera technology funding for apple growers

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Apple growers can get a grant potentially covering up to 60% of the cost of tractor-mounted camera technology.

The funding is available through the latest round of the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund (FETF) grant and covers any make of tractor-mounted, high-resolution sensors, along with an in-cab terminal to provide on-board data processing. Pricing is based around Aurea Imaging’s TMS TreeScout, which could see growers net £12,900 towards the cost of the equipment.

The potential benefits of the system are said to be significant, with precision thinning trials in the Netherlands showing a typical yield uplift of six tonnes per hectare, worth over £2,600 per hectare.

Agrovista Fruit agronomist Tom Johnson added that the funding helps open the door to significant economic gains. “Managing each tree as an individual helps to create a more homogenous orchard. In collaboration with their agronomists, growers can more accurately match inputs to need using GPS-guided variable rates, producing a more uniform fruit set and improving quality and yield consistency.

“With funding now available, the potential return on investment is even more impressive,” said Tom. “It could be the catalyst for a large increase in precision operations in UK apple orchards this season.”

The expected average cost of the system is £21,500, meaning that a 60% grant would be worth £12,900. To be eligible, the system must meet the following criteria:

  • be a tractor-mounted sensor for precision orchard management
  • recognise individual trees
  • record blossom level and fruit loading on trees
  • be ISOBUS compatible
  • have WiFi connectivity
  • link to an existing GPS system
  • provide data for blossom mapping, vigour mapping and fruit load mapping

The first application window runs until the 11th of April, with two more windows expected in 2024. The highest scoring applications will be allocated funding first.

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