Ranch Manager, Olam (Bakersfield, Calif.)
When asked where his operation sees a return from using Fieldin’s remote farm management platform, Frank Guzman’s answer was simple:
“Efficiency,” said Guzman, a ranch manager for Olam’s almond operations in Bakersfield.
“Labor is one of the top expenses for a farm, so efficiency is really important to us. The costs of inputs continue going up – equipment, fuel, labor, rates, so it’s important to look at every detail and see where we can start saving money and make sure every minute counts.”
Guzman is right. In California, the minimum wage has increased by 126% percent since 1999 and will continue to increase over the next two seasons.
When you’re a large farming operation, you can’t be everywhere, so it helps to have that insight into your operation,” Guzman said.
“It allows you to see why one operator, or one machine, might be covering 50 acres, versus another that might be doing 80. And it allows you to communicate with your guys and make improvements. That’s where we see the value.”
Optimizing Spray Applications
Labor aside, the other costs of farming continue to increase for almond growers in California, where spray and cultural costs have increased by 184% since 1999, according to surveys by UC Davis Agriculture & Resource Economics. Harvesting costs have increased by another 56%.
Guzman said Fieldin has helped optimize both Olam’s spray and harvesting operations.
“We like to do certain sprays and certain jobs at certain speeds,” he said, “so Fieldin allows us to really track our speeds, our timing, and making sure we’re as efficient as possible.”
The ranch manager added that Fieldin’s mobile alerts have come in handy during herbicide and other spray applications, where speed thresholds are set so that his team is notified when spray speeds fall outside the recommendation.
Optimizing Harvest Activities
Same said for harvesting season, when shaker and sweeper operators have recommended targets to follow for drive, shake and tree times. Without a real-time monitoring system like Fieldin, it’s challenging for growers to know if those recommendations are being carried out – considering an operator is shaking hundreds of trees in a shift.
Fieldin also provides growers with benchmark data aggregated from all of its customers, so managers can measure themselves against some the state’s most efficient operations.
“It’s great because you can set alerts for critical issues and make sure your guys stay on track,” Guzman said.
“That’s the thing with Fieldin, it literally tells you everything in detail. It tells you how many trees were shaken that day, and how long they were on a tree shaking it, how long it takes from tree to tree, so that’s where the efficiency comes into play again. Why is one guy doing so much? Why is another way down here? So it gives you accountability also.”
Along with the real-time data and alerts, Guzman said he appreciates the daily email reports of the previous day’s activities, especially when spray applications take place at night, and during the busy harvest season.
“I love it,” he said. “Especially when I’m on my phone, in a rush, rush situation. Or in the morning, when I wake up, if they sprayed last night. It’s as simple as turn on the app, and see what they did last night. It’s just another set of eyes for me for sure. It’s been very helpful.”
Learn more about Olam Edible nuts at olamediblenuts.com.
Smart Spraying, Harvesting, Cultural Practices