actual grower cost structures and returns confidential. Various reporting options allow growers to compare their performance to other growers within the database. In every case, data from other growers is anonymous and contributes to average and upper quartile data, ensuring grower privacy is maintained at every stage. Extension Once limiting factors in a block are identified, whether seasonal or structural, these can be analysed and action taken to improve them, minimise their impact, or in the case of non-viable blocks, look at how they can be replaced. To assist with this process and to know what a good block looks like, the ABA will arrange extension activities. This will include timely articles, field days, orchard walks, etc. How do you get involved? An almond version of OrchardNet is currently being developed and will be released in time for the 2013/14 season. For the next three seasons beginning 2013/14, the ABA has a fixed number of free subscriptions to OrchardNet but if uptake is successful and the subscriptions are exceeded, the ABA will review its funding support. Growers will be provided with training in the use of the software and the ABA will provide ongoing support when required. The bare minimum you need to get started is yield and quality assessments. To get the most out of the software you should also enter other specific data such as your own income and costs, and key block metrics. If you have time available you could also enter information from historical seasons to build a more complete picture. Once data exists over time, OrchardNet becomes more powerful as you can use it to look forward and plan your management. What’s not to like? Contact the office on (08) 8582 2055 or email@example.com to register your interest and become involved.
Figure 2: Flow chart and checklist for investigating improved orchard performance
OrchardNet is an orchard data management tool designed to give growers and their industry partners the ability to optimise individual block and variety results, and provide an accurate picture of their total business operation. OrchardNet will provide the reports (Figure 1) and four scenarios provided earlier. OrchardNet also collates other data such as leaf tissue data, soil and fruit nutrient data, water use, production forecasts, actual production results, physical tree metrics, production costs and returns, and a range of physical input data to produce customised reports. Very little data is required to generate initial reports and growers can selectively enter data for the specific reports that interest them, providing quick feedback. Growers can set up the optimum performance parameters for each block at the start of each season. Key data is then collected at key times through the season to either make sure goals will be met, or allow early indications of changes that will not allow potential optimums to eventuate. Data security and privacy is a key focus in OrchardNet. Grower data may only be shared with industry partners through growers explicitly assigning permission on a block by block basis, and data is limited to relevant performance, keeping
used to assist investigations. There are many finer details within each heading but this should form the basis. The order in which you investigate should also follow the recommendations, with price being the last factor to cover off. If you are not highly ranked, you have plenty to do prior to discussing prices. However, if you think you’ve checked off everything along the way, have your own house in order, and still aren’t highly ranked, then a private conversation with your marketer is warranted. OrchardNet ® So, what vehicle are we going to use for this comparison; well it’s called OrchardNet. Primary Industries (DEPI) of Victoria. This funding has been used to develop an almond version of OrchardNet, an online orchard database system designed by AgFirst Ltd, a leading independent New Zealand based company specialising in horticultural consultancy and possessing extensive experience with methods and tools of grower empowerment. AgFirst have been the lead R&D provider in the highly successful Future Orchards program managed by Apple and Pear Australia Ltd (APAL) of which OrchardNet has formed the backbone. The ABA has obtained funding from the Department of Environment and