We are excited to announce we will be working alongside researchers from Aberdeen University, where they will be building an artificial intelligence system that will forecast fruit harvests, which could potentially save our industry millions each year.
The objective of the AI system is to learn key information such as weather data, weather forecasts, satellite imaging and historical yield and will develop algorithms that accurately forecast production and measure uncertainty.
This project will take place at farms across the Angus Soft Fruits group, over the course of three years.
This development could prove crucial in ensuring more efficient forecasting and profitability for growers, leading to much more efficient sales, packing and transport.
Researchers at the University of Aberdeen and The Data Lab say the new system will also enhance growers’ reputation with customers, while limiting food waste and associated carbon emissions.
Georgios Leontidis, Director of the University’s centre for AI, said the project could prove to be a ‘game-changer’ for an industry worth millions to Scotland’s economy. “We will work with growers to understand the flaws in current forecasting systems, develop advanced machine learning models that harness high quality data, and seek expert input from growers that can further enhance these models. “The ultimate aim is to produce an inexpensive yield forecasting system that brings all of this high-quality data together, providing maximum advantage for growers and helping them to stay in profit and protect jobs.”
Jan Redpath, of Angus Soft Fruits Ltd, said that margins had become ‘much tighter’ for growers, with many going out of the business.
“On the one hand, we have soaring costs in particular labour and fertilisers, and on the other our biggest ability to influence price comes from being able to accurately match supply with demand.
“Competitive advantage is gained from producing a stream of new varieties. However, with new varieties comes new crop results and there is no historical prediction data to rely on to forecast future yields. “Research into more accurate forecasting is required more than ever.”