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Hero Spotlight: Tristan Smith from FPG

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

Building a great tool is never enough, you need someone to make the most out of it. We're thankful for our growers-partners all over the world for sharing our vision of plant-based practices and helping transform their businesses - and farming - by being connected to their plants. We're happy to share their stories and experiences as part of our Grower Spotlight series.

Tristan Smith believes in "evidence based farming"

in Sunraysia, North Western Victoria, Australia, Tristan Smith (Pictured above with Our Sales & Client Services Manager, Paul Grobler) is the Horticultural Technologist for FPG (Fresh Produce Group), that owns “Treviso Vineyards” and “Tumut Grove”.

FPG owns and manages over 700ha of grape and citrus orchards. Last year they started deploying Phytech service and have now expanded to cover 29% of their grapes as well as 48% of their citrus.

"Our company prides itself on its motto of “evidence based farming”. We also believe irrigation to be the most critical aspect of quality produce", says explains Tristan. "I initially decided to trial Phytech on a few patches of lemons and navel oranges on our Colignan citrus property. Shortly after installing the initial few sites I learnt how little evidence we had previously had in making our irrigation decisions"

Clear visibility of trees and fruits condition - and water needs

Trunk sensors measuring micro-variations in trunk diameter were installed in the orchard, monitoring trees' growth as well as trunk MDS (Maximal Daily Shrinkage) which Phytech's algorithm translates into Plant status: the real-time water demand of the trees, displayed as a simple color-coded indicator on our customers' mobile phones.

Fruit sensors are installed to give growers an accurate and real-time measurement of their fruit size, which they can track along Phytech's fruit reference: a trajectory curve defined at the beginning of the season by the grower's input of fruit size goal and harvest date.

"Phytech provided the evidence"

"Phytech quickly provided plant based evidence as to exactly how regularly to irrigate, for how long and even down to the best time during the day to irrigate. The fruit size sensors provided invaluable information into tracking fruit size throughout the season to reach the desired fruit size on the chosen harvest date. This provided evidence as to whether we needed to push harder for size, or in the case of some patches, whether we had to back off to stop the fruit from getting too large", says Tristan.

"We're excited to see what we can achieve with Phytech"

To make decision process more easier and quicker Phytech provides an irrigation reference line that help growers fine tune their water delivery tactics. The plant reference is another feature, that compare trees' growth against a benchmark created from historical data of the same trees (age and variety), which assists in understanding trees' growth rate. Pressure switches monitor actual irrigation in real time, so growers have the complete picture of their operation: from the trees' water demand and up to water being supplied.

Phytech's team of technicians, support staff and success managers ensure consistent data and undisputed service, while guiding & supporting costumers so they can reap the full benefits of the solution.

Tristan: "Needless to say I quickly decided to install Phytech over a greater percentage of our orchard and now have it installed through most varieties, soil types and across overhead sprinkler, low level sprinkler and drip irrigation areas. We have now decided to install Phytech across some of our table grape operations to compliment our soil moisture monitoring devices with Phytech’s plant based solution. After just one part season with Phytech, we are enjoying a successful citrus harvest with great size and quality produce. We are very excited to see what we can now achieve with a full season of Phytech in the coming season"

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